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Emotions In The Things They Carried Essay


In his story “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien, informs the reader with the lots of faces and emotions of men. Although men are typically believed upon as the stronger of the two sexes; physically and emotionally, O’Brien lets us recognize that this is not so. Guys are weak in even the greatest of situations. And in this case, the situation is war. War is the primary style of the story.

Masculinity in the story

The ‘soldiers’ pointed out are victims of numerous feelings, for example, love, hatred, stress, depression, etc.

. They realize how essential love and real-life relationships are. The majority of males who are victim to long lost love, attempt to let go of their past and focus just on their duties in vain. As they walk through the streets of Vietnam, they bring with themselves the standard requirements of survival and mementos to remind them of home. Throughout these marches, they dispose of a few of their materials because they understand that they will quickly acquire far more.

War is like a game to the soldiers, there are always winners and losers. It can be had fun with many different strategies.

It is all a matter of luck and technique. However it is not all that bad. A few of the soldiers, who leave, return soon due to the fact that the peace ‘injures’ them too much. And for some, the war is far too much to deal with. This is primarily due to the losses they experience. Death is a frightening event which occurs most often bringing with it tears of discomfort and tension. The soldiers hesitate of eliminating too. The first kill is constantly the hardest to bear. These soldiers envision what kind of a life their opponents led before getting involved into such a situation. Deep, dark marks are left within the hearts of these soldiers as they invest limitless days on the battlefields. Voegele prices quote O’Brien as talking about fear,

“In lots of respects this was the heaviest concern of all, for it could never ever be put down.” (Voegele).

The soldiers have dreams about escaping the ruthless nature and reality of war due to the fact that they are unable to remove fear from their hearts. The majority of the time, there are minor quarrels that take place, some resulting in physically fights, which soon lead to renewed relationships, trust and written pacts, and then ending in death and grief.

Voegele quotes O’Brien offers the weight of the items which the soldiers carry by saying “The weapon weighed 7.5 pounds unloaded, 8.2 pounds with its full 20 round publication. The riflemen brought anywhere from 12 to 20 magazines … adding on another 8.4 pounds at minimum, 14 pounds at maximum.” (Voegele). The story above represents the manly love of the soldier as it depicts the difficult and harsh nature of their experience in war. These soldiers need to be tough and brave in the battleground in order to prove that they are worthy males.

Experience of war

O’Brien offers a graphic portrait of the experience of war by mentioning the weight of the things which the soldiers carry. The soldiers also have to face other external factors like the weather during the time of war “They brought the sky. The entire environment … they carried gravity.” (Voegele). However according to O’Brien the soldiers have a number of psychological issues which are much heavier for them than the physical things they carry. “Sorrow, horror, love, yearning these were intangibles, however the intangibles had their own mass and particular gravity, they had concrete weigh.” (Voegele).

Many different stories are gone over and the lust for ladies is often raised throughout camp talks. However numerous stories of lost and dead soldiers are never spoken of. Often out of worry, sometimes out of regard, and in some cases out of sheer dissatisfaction and misunderstanding. These stories, burdened by the soldiers sometimes drive them into a negative attitude. The majority of these soldiers tend to devote suicide. “That night when Kiowa got squandered, I sort of sank down into the sewage with him” (O’Brien, pg. 156).

The author describes his feelings of when he lost a real good friend due to an unexpected attack. Kiowa had drowned into the depths of the sewage during this attack. Although O’Brien had actually tried to assist, the smell was excruciating to him. In the story, there is also particularly rumors of a girl smuggled into Vietnam by a soldier are raised. This ‘soldier’ had to spend a large amount of cash into getting his sweetheart there. He cautioned about how hazardous it was. All the men are duly jealous of the young couple.

Superstition is common among the guys. They keep particular ‘things’ with them at all times, thinking these items might bring them luck. To a few of them, they really do bring luck! However religious beliefs is also a big part of these soldiers’ lives. They talk about how one day; they would like to be monks and priests, and about how they want to assist individuals and be kind to them rather of eliminating anybody and anything that was available in their way. As the war wages on, the soldiers look for amusement in the harshness around them. The camps they set around for themselves are of unpleasant environments. From the ruthless weather condition, to the scary crawlies and even then unbearable stenches, these soldiers have actually experienced everything.

They joke about the times they had practically died or had wept out of fear of dealing with death throughout combat. Most of these males go through many changes, particularly in their characters. Some of the soldiers like Norman Bowler were decent and law abiding people when they were civilians. But this man transformed himself into an uncaring animal and around his neck he carried a thumb which had actually been eliminated from the body of a Viet Cong guerilla fighter. The Viet Cong guerilla fighter was just a teen. Bowler was really proud of his very first kill. But there were likewise others, like Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, who had actually been delicate during their civilian life.

However the results of war do not change them into animals. They stay the same, lovable people, hoping for an escape into the arms of their loved ones. But when they face their enemies, no matter their age or gender, these soldiers are emotionless monsters. They even torture human children, mostly orphan babies, completely. O’Brien refers to the infants as a ‘young water buffalo’. Readers will find the story to be lacking any emotions as the American soldiers take part in abuse and brutality for sports and entertainment.

Nevertheless, these males tend to feel terrible later on. They think over what they have actually done and be sorry for these events a lot that they end up injuring themselves in order to finally leave this reality. While some, make all the killing seem like kid’s play. And later on, all these men share and relate their own life stories to the people they eliminate throughout the war. This, according to O’Brien, brings them back to life. He based his life on one slogan, “Once you live, you can’t ever be dead” (O’Brien, pg. 244).

Tim O’Brien does not believe in death. The soldiers, even hard are fighting day and night for their nation; feel that it is ineffective to wage this war. They can not discover any genuine factors as to why they exist, except that they were designated to this duty without any factor to consider. This absence of purpose likewise drives the guys into madness. When lastly, the war pertains to an end, the soldiers return house to again lead a ‘regular civilian’ life. However the bitter memories of Vietnam avoid these males from ever being sane once again. The war has cast a heavy shadow over the hearts of these as soon as good-willed, god-fearing males. Although, most of the story is fictional, Tim O’Brien depicts to his readers the cruelty of war.

He desires individuals to comprehend how it felt to experience death, so that they could finally accept it. He tries to share his sensations and the feelings of his fellow soldiers through detached words. He talks of the torture and pain, the crying and shouting, the innocent civilian families seeing their enjoyed ones being put to death in front of their eyes aware that their turn is soon to come. The experience of war is glamorized in the novel as the author offers an account of the experiences of soldiers. These soldiers are living in hell however they have a clear idea of the culture of war. They know that they are making history by ending up being individuals of war.


This story clearly specifies that even males are feeble animals who succumb to feelings no matter what they do. The life of a soldier may seem to be filled with hardships and killing. However no one really understands the truth behind the lifeless eyes. We, civilians wonder what it may be like out their on the battlefield and how these soldiers live their lives without emotion.

When, in reality, they share as much feeling as any regular human being would. They fear the blood shed around them. Some show their feelings and admit their love and worries, while others decide to conceal themselves by displaying a relentless mindset. Every experience is hard for them. Every brand-new day is a larger difficulty. If the cards are not played right, there is a loss, in some cases many losses. The story is a crucial suggestion about the scaries and cruelties of war. It tells us how war alters the experiences of soldiers.

Functions Pointed out

O’Brien. Tim. The Important Things They Carried. Broadway. (1998 )

Voegele, Jason. Thoughts on The Important Things They Brought. Copyright © Jason Voegele

Obtained 16th August 2008 http://www.jvoegele.com/essays/things.html

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