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Tim OBrien The Things They Carry

Uploaded by dudikmillennium on Oct 01, 2004

The Heavy Burden



After reading Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”, it helped me better explore and understand the emotions and experiences of the soldiers surrounded by the Vietnam War. The main character of the story is the leader of the platoon First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross. O’Brien created protagonist, Jimmy Cross, to represent all other men in his platoon. The author assigns the most importance to Cross with the aspects of his personal life because it allows the reader to see the intensity of what the other men are going through and the heaviness of things they carry.

The things that the soldiers carried during combat zone were both tangible and intangible things, but it all depended on the necessities needed and according to Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for what was ordered. As a medic, Rat Kiley carries a canvas satchel; radio and telephone operator, Mitchell Sanders carries a PRC-25 field radio; as a machine gunner, Henry Dobbins carried the M-60 saw gun; and as a first lieutenant and platoon leader, Jimmy Cross carries a compass, maps, code books, binoculars, and a .45-caliber pistol. All the common grunts, infantry soldiers, carry the standard M-16 riffle. For protection it was SOP for each soldier to have on a steel-centered, nylon-covered flak jacket, and steel helmets with the liner and camouflage cover. They carried standard fatigue jackets and trousers. The men also carried things that were not really necessary in the combat zone. For example, dope, condoms and comic books. So most of the tangible things that soldiers had were mission oriented and were common among the soldiers in the platoon.

The most weight of the things the men carry lies in the intangible: "Grief, terror, love, longing these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight." They all had heavy burdens, which filled them with: fear of death or injury, negative emotions, seeing deaths of their fellow soldiers, and the memories of being back home with their loved ones. They realized that just a simple everyday life back home was now seen so precious to them at this terrifying time. It was just like a big rock sack filled with emotions they had to carry everyday on their shoulders. O’Brien is trying to tell that in that situation the intangible things were much heavier then those physical burdens they had to carry.

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Uploaded by:   dudikmillennium

Date:   10/01/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   4 pages (867 words)

Views:   1553

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