Free «Tim O’Brien's The ThingsThey Carried» Essay Sample

The text by Tim O’Brien The ThingsThey Carriedis a catalogue of the burdening tangibles and mental, emotional bothers that the protagonist, Tim O’ Brien and his colleagues from the alpha company carry.

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The emotional bothers are quite more troubling than the tangible war ammunition and requirement that the soldiers have to carry. This is overtly expressed through prominent the theme of physical and emotional burdens. This theme manifests overtly in that the burdens, which the soldiers carry are both abstract and presentational.

In fact, each of the soldier from the Alpha company carry substantial emotional burdens either from their past or the experience in war. For instance, The lieutenant , Cross is emotionally burdened and feels guilt over an incident that cost the life of Lavender, a fellow soldier. Lavender was shot on her from the washroom whilst the Lieutenant, Jimmy was apparently obsessively thinking of her feelings for Martha. On the other hand, Lavender had spent his life emotionally struggling with her anxiety about war by smoking marijuana.  Additionally other soldiers lost their lives in during their duty in war. This leads to guilt among fellow soldiers (Tim 42.) For instance, the narrator, O’ Brien is burdened by fear but chose to go to war since he could not take  the guilt of avoiding war as well as, disappointing his folks. He is further subjected to guilt over Lemon’s death whose death resulted form stepping on a mortar round that had been rigged. Additionally, the death of Kiowa  a close colleague to O’ Brien hit him death given that he was his best friend. In fact, he saves his life by relaying his memories in  his writing years after through the story of Norman Bowker.

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The theme of physical and emotional burdens is emphasized by the symbolism in the novel that underlines the emotional and physical pains that the soldiers suffer. First, the soldiers carry the burdens of their reputation and fear to some extent but hold onto to the course of war. Furthermore, the war encounters burden them with psychological burdens that impact them. There are various incidences of in text that employ symbolism and highlights the theme of physical and emotional burdens. Firstly, the dead young Vietnamese soldier whose death is likely caused by a grenade that O’Brien threw triggers unwavering memories of his corpse that render O’ Brien uneasy. This memory is persistent and recurs to symbolize humanity’s guilt over catastrophic acts. O' Brien feels guilt and this is evident in the writing The Man I killed whereby he builds a fantasy of the man’s life as to what it could be and probably was before his demise. However, O’ Brien distance himself from the death of this soldier in that he gives no stand or feelings regarding the issue. His guilt is quite palpable  in that he includes some aspects which match his actual life (Tim 77).

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Secondly, the lass Linda is symbol that serve to represent elements of the past. Linda, was a fellow student from O’Brien’s childhood and his first love. The death of Linda brought him a lot of anguish. Thus, he turned to storytelling to deal with this grief and other life difficulties. First, to O’ Brien daydreams brought him relief and his imagination suggested Linda was alive. Thus he made the dead to continue living by engaging them in his storytelling, which he derived from his dreams (Tim 74).Thirdly, the incident on the rainy river is symbolic of O’ Brien’s state of mind. It was nightmare that he traversed up to the border in hi s attempt to escape to Canada since he was no convince of going to war and the immense fear of war he harbored. He is unable to get the idea of combat out of his mind, thus he thinks of avoiding participation in war.


The subject matter of The Things They Carried is evident through out the text and quite comprehendable given the precise symbolism applied by the author. Therefore, the style of writing was key to the success of this particular art of work.

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