The Things They Carried– the Protagonist Tim O’Brien
THE lead character, who is named Tim O’Brien, starts by explaining an event that took place in the middle of his Vietnam experience. “The Things They Carried” catalogs the range of things his fellow soldiers in the Alpha Business induced their missions. Numerous of these things are intangible, including guilt and fear, while others are specific physical things, including matches, morphine, M-16 rifles, and M; M’s sweet.
Throughout the collection, the very same characters reappear in different stories. The first member of the Alpha Business to pass away is Ted Lavender, a “grunt,” or low-ranking soldier, who handles his anxiety about the war by taking tranquilizers and cigarette smoking marijuana. Lavender is shot in the head on his way back from going to the restroom, and his exceptional, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, blames himself for the tragedy. When Lavender is shot, Cross is distracting himself with thoughts of Martha, a college crush. It is revealed in “Love” that Cross’s feelings for Martha, whom he dated when prior to leaving for Vietnam, were never reciprocated, which even twenty years after the war, his regret over Lavender’s death remains.
In “On the Rainy River,” the storyteller, O’Brien, discusses the series of occasions that led him to Vietnam in the very first location. He receives his draft notification in June of 1968, and his feelings of confusion drive him north to the Canadian border, which he ponders crossing so that he will not be required to fight in a war in which he doesn’t think. Sitting in a rowboat with the proprietor of the Idea Top Lodge, where he remains, O’Brien chooses that his guilt about avoiding the war and fear of disappointing his household are more crucial than his political convictions. He soon leaves, going initially back home to Worthington, Minnesota and later on to Vietnam.
In addition to Ted Lavender, a couple of other members of the Alpha Company are eliminated during their mission overseas, including Curt Lemon, who is eliminated when utilizing a grenade to play catch with the medic, Rat Kiley. Though O’Brien is not near Lemon, in “The Dental practitioner,”he narrates of how Lemon, who passes out before a routine examination with an army-issued dental professional, attempts to preserve one’s honor by firmly insisting that a completely excellent tooth be pulled. Lee Strunk, another member of the business, passes away from injuries he sustains by stepping on a landmine.
In “Good friends,” O’Brien bears in mind that prior to Strunk was fatally harmed, Strunk and Dave Jensen had actually made a pact that if either man were irreparably harmed, the other male would see that he was rapidly killed. However, when Strunk is in fact harmed, he pleads Jensen to spare him, and Jensen complies. Rather of being disturbed by the news of his good friend’s swift death en path to treatment, Jensen is eased.
The death that receives the most attention in The Things They Carried is that of Kiowa, a much-loved member of the Alpha Business and among O’Brien’s closest friends. In “Speaking of Courage,” the story of Kiowa’s death is communicated in retrospection through the memory of Norman Bowker, years after the war. As Bowker drives around a lake in his Iowa hometown, he believes that he failed to save Kiowa, who was eliminated when a mortar round hit and caused him to sink headfirst into a marshy field. O’Brien understands that he has dealt with his guilt over Kiowa’s death differently than Norman Bowker in “Notes.” Prior to the end of the war, O’Brien gets a long letter from Bowker that says he hasn’t discovered a method to make life meaningful after the war. O’Brien resolves to tell Bowker’s story, and the story of Kiowa’s death, in order to negotiate his own sensations of guilt and hollowness.
Like “Love” and “Notes,” numerous of O’Brien’s stories are told from a perspective twenty years after the Vietnam War, when he is a forty-three-year-old writer living in Massachusetts. Direct exposure to the regret of old buddies like Jimmy Cross and Norman Bowker triggers him to write stories in order to understand what they were going through. But 2 stories, “The Male I Killed” and”Ambush,” are written so that O’Brien can face his own guilt over eliminating a male with a grenade outside the town of My Khe.
In “The Male I Eliminated,” O’Brien envisions the life of his victim, from his childhood to the method things would have turned out for him had O’Brien not spotted him on a path and tossed a grenade at his feet. In “Ambush,” O’Brien pictures how he might pass on the story of the male he killed to his nine-year-old daughter, Kathleen. In this second story, O’Brien offers more details of the real killing– consisting of the sound of the grenade and his own feelings– and discusses that even well after the reality, he hasn’t completed figuring out the experience. In the last story, “The Lives of the Dead,” O’Brien provides another twist to his contention that stories have the power to save people. In the stories of Curt Lemon and Kiowa, O’Brien explains that his imagination permitted him to grapple effectively with his regret and confusion over the death of his fourth-grade first love, Linda