The Things They Carried is Tim O'Brien’s collection of short stories about the US soldiers in during the Vietnam War. If you’ve been given an assignment to write the things they carried essay , it’s time to get familiar with the things they carried essay topics .
When it comes to writing the things they carried essay , authors often decide to write about the idea of carrying in this collection of novels. There’s no doubt that the theme of carrying is one of the most crucial ones in the text, while the title of the story offers a very comprehensive examination of the idea. The detailed and dense lists of objects carried by men may seem irrelevant and tedious sometimes, but that’s not true. The matter is that in addition to weapons, soldiers in the story bring such mundane things as cigarettes, candy and letters from their loved ones. This definitely points out to their humanity. The author keeps reminding us the exact weight of several items, including weapons, food and gear. He just tries to convey an important idea of how it was difficult to struggle under that heavy weight.
Many the things they carried essays tell that physical burdens aren’t the only burdens the story’s soldiers have to deal with. That’s right – the warriors are also weighed down by an extremely tough emotional baggage. For example, Jimmy Cross is convinced that he has to carry the idea of Martha and that even provoked Ted Lavender’s death. Meanwhile, Ted Lavender is excited too much. He tried to sooth himself with the help of tranquilizers and marijuana. As a result, he was shot when hanging around carelessly.
The metaphor of carrying is crucial to O’Brien’s work in general and extends through the different stories of the compilation to add weight to the idea that regardless of burdens one carries it gives us an opportunity to navigate through inconsistencies of life. A great number of characters as well as items introduced in the first story can also be found in the later stories.
Another worthy topic for the things they carried analysis essay is the use of the third-person narration in the compilation. That’s rather a weird move of the author, especially considering the fact that most of his work is fully personal. So, let’s see what purpose this narration serves.
Well, O’Brien is used to gaining some distance from certain harrowing experiences faced by him in Vietnam. Some of the stories in the book were built around an extremely painful experience, so by means of this third- person point of view O’Brien simply tries to stay away from traumatic memories.
For instance, in «The Man I Killed» the writer describes the physical properties of the Vietnamese warrior’s corpse and thoroughly depicts how his fellow soldiers react to his shooting that man. Meanwhile, he tells nothing about his feelings concerning that shocking situation. We see his guilt in the lack of response. Just like the other soldiers of his Alpha Company, who are used to joking about how their fellow mates’ corpses look like, he makes use of the third-person narration style in order to make a distance that would have been absolutely impossible with the first-person narration.
Apart from that, the use of the third-person narration provides a certain amount of universality. That author doesn’t think that his personal experience is far more horrible than anything faced by his fellow soldiers. He actually wasn’t the only warrior to face Kiowa’s as well as others’ death. That’s why the compilation is dubbed «The Things They Carried» instead of «The Things I Carried».
Finally, we should discuss the role of women in O’Brien’s work. In spite of the fact, women don’t play a significant role in the stories, we can’t overlook it. Such female characters as Mary Anne Bell, Martha as well as Henry Dobbin’s unnamed girlfriend greatly affect all the soldiers of the Alpha Company. The soldiers idealize their women and utilize their presence in photos, letters and imagination as a sort of solace and probably reminder that there’s another world outside all these atrocities of Vietnam.
Jimmy Cross carries Martha’s pictures as well as memories of their only date. Henry Dobbins carries a pantyhose of his girlfriend. This intimate thing reminds him of home. It also distract him from the horrible realities of being the machine gunner in their platoon. Mark Fossie wants to invite Mary Anne over to Vietnam. From his point of view this would save him from all the horrors of the Vietnam War. However, all these soldiers don’t think of their women as ordinary beings with fears, thoughts and special needs. Instead, they see them as the number one motivation to survive this fierce war.
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