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The Things They Carried Analysis


The Things They Brought Analysis

Connor Bickford Prof Person ENC1102 A1 7 Mar 2013 Literary Analysis of “The Important Things They Carried” “The Things They Brought” by Tim O’Brien illustrates a squad of soldiers serving in the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was battled throughout the 1960/70’s in the nation of Vietnam. It was an unusually harsh war and lots of veterans suffered for years after from their traumatic experiences. The author tells of all the things they carried from weapons to the psychological burden of wartime. Short memories are recalled, and insights to the characters are developed as everything the soldiers carried are exposed.

The author informs stories of many of the soldiers missions and adventures. The Author effectively utilizes the aspects of fiction: tone, style, and symbolism to help the reader understand the soldiers challenges in the Vietnam War. Tim O’brien uses the tone of the story to boost the view of the challenges the soldiers dealt with. Throughout the story a soldier named Ted Lavender is mentioned. He was killed by an enemy and his death is talked about typically. The author utilizes a cold, unemotional tone to make Ted Lavender’s death a common subject.

O’Brien writes on page 347,

“But Ted Lavender, who was frightened, carried thirty-four rounds when he was shot in the head outside Than Ke, and he went down under a remarkable concern … He was dead weight. There was no twitching or flopping.”

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Brought Analysis, Page 347

The flatness revealed by the author is used to reveal the challenges on the soldiers mental state. Another mentioning of Lavenders death states,

“… prior to Lavender passed away,. “

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Analysis, Page 348

, and another states,

“After the chopper that took Lavender away, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross led his males into the town of Than Ke. They burned everything.”

Tim O’Brien, The Important Things They Carried Analysis, Page 353

In reaction to the Vietnamese soldiers shooting Ted, the soldiers get what they call revenge. They killed everyone in the village and burned it to the ground. This gruesome writing helps portray the tone the author used, cold and dark. The death of Ted Lavender was made to be practically conversational, something to be talked about, however in truth the soldiers were just so hardened by death and their savage lives in the forests of Vietnam that the death of Ted Lavender didn’t effect them like a “normal” person. The style the author uses helps represent the reality of the hardships in Vietnam.

His design is more recurring and conversational. In Ted Lavender’s case the author consistently brings him up throughout the story. O’Brien does this in order to show the reader that the soldiers still believed and talked about him typically even after his death. The author’s usage of conversationalist design is proven in the passage,

“Lee Strunk made a funny ghost sound, a type of moaning, yet extremely happy, and right then, when Strunk made that high pleased groaning noise, when he went Ahhooooo, best then Ted Lavender was shot in the head on his way back from peeing.

He lay with his mouth open. The teeth were broken. There was a swollen black bruise under his left eye. The cheekbone was gone. Oh shit, Rat Kiley stated, the people dead. I mean truly.”

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Brought Analysis, Page 351

The conversational style used by the author assists bring to life how the soldiers in fact handled these hard times, and how they attempted their hardest to stay positive during the war. The passage reveals the soldiers lastly being happy and commemorating survival of an objective, then Lavender is shot.

The discussion goes from delighted back to the harsh text of

“Oh shit, the people dead”

Tim O’Brien, The Important Things They Brought Analysis

The design of writing widespread in “The Things They Brought” helps to actually let the reader understand the harsh and terrible difficulties the soldiers faced in Vietnam. The most essential element of fiction utilized by the author is importance. “The Things They Brought” has plenty of signs that really help the reader understand the emotional state of the soldiers and how they felt under all the stress and turmoil of war.

An example of this is seen when the author composes,

“In the very first week of April, before Lavender passed away, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross received a good-luck charm from Martha. It was a basic pebble, an ounce at most. Smooth to the touch, it was a milky-white color with flecks of orange and violet, oval-shaped, like a mini egg … She wrote that she had actually found the pebble on the Jersey coastline, precisely where the land touched water at high tide where things came together however likewise separated.

It was this separate-but-together quality, she wrote, that had inspired her to select it up and to bring it in her breast pocket for a number of days, where it appeared weightless, and then to send it through the mail, by air, as a token of her truest sensations for him. “

Tim O’Brien, The Important Things They Brought Analysis, Page 348

This pebble starts out as a symbol for Martha’s sensations for Lt. Cross, however ends up being more than that. While the pebble is a symbol of Marthas feelings, it is also a sign of Lt. Cross’s emotional/mental state. The pebble is constantly with Lt. Cross and he continuously keeps it in his mouth.

This pebble is continuously moving being rolled and toppled and put from place to place, and all these movements show how unbalanced and jumbled Lt. Cross is psychologically. Another symbol is the real things they carried. A quote from the story says,

“What they brought was partly a function of rank, partially a field of specialty. As a first lieutenant and platoon leader, Jimmy Cross carried a compass, maps, code books, binoculars, and a. 45 quality handgun that weighed 2. 9 pounds fully packed. He brought a strobe light and the obligation for the lives of his men.

As an RTO, Mitchell Sanders carried the PRC-25 radio, a killer, twenty six pounds with its battery.”

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Brought Analysis, Page 346

While what they carry and the weight of what they brought is seen commonly, the things they carried likewise have a deeper meaning. Each male bore an emotional burden on top of what they brought. The author consists of the description and weights to provide a much deeper meaning to more than guns and equipment. They carried the weight of their lives, their other soldiers, and the big burden of understanding they too could pass away any minute.

The symbolism referencing the mental concerns, and the meaning for the frame of mind of a soldier discovered in the story play a major part in understanding the hardships the soldiers faced in Vietnam, by giving them a deeper significance that shows the mental state of the soldiers. “The Important Things They Brought”, by Tim O’Brien shows readers the extreme and cold realities of a soldier in the Vietnam War. Soldiers passed away and things needed to keep moving. The cold unemotional tone set for this story plays a vital role in enhancing the difficulties the soldiers faced on a day to day basis.

The repetitive and conversational design the author used actually assisted to understand the characters of the story and how they were feeling, or not feeling. Meaning in the short story was also utilized to deepen the meaning of the things they brought and heighten their difficulties. The author used these elements of fiction to effectively communicate the message that the soldiers faced serious difficult times during the Vietnam War and there was more to it than carrying a great deal of supplies.

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