The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien
The Horror of War
The horror of war is evident in the story in many cases. First when part of the platoon thought they heard noises while they were in the mountains, but really they were paranoid. As a result they decided to call in a chopper and destroy the village because they thought that the village was a threat to them. The innocent people in the village died because the platoon members were scared and paranoid. Another example is when Kiowa died and Rat Kiley got injured. Kiowa died in a swampy disgusting field and the platoon members could have saved him if the hurried, but because they were in war they couldn't run or move hastily. Rat also got injured and had to be sent to Japan because of his injuries. Rat was one of the best medic the platoon had but he got hurt. The outcomes of all of these people in the platoon occurred in war, which shows the horror of war.
Coping with Guilt
Coping with guilt is something that the characters have to go through, in particular, Jimmy Cross and Tim O'Brien. Jimmy Cross feels guilty for the death of Lee Strunk, when in reality he couldn't control it. However because he was focused on Martha and he is the lieutenant of the platoon so he believes that it his fault. As a result Cross has guilt for the death of Lee Strunk. Another character that has to deal with guilt is Tim O'Brien. He was present when a member in the platoon killed someone and he says he presence enough was like killing him. However it didn't matter if he was there, he believes that he helped killed him, and he won't get rid of his guilt. These two characters plus others have to cope with guilt throughout the story.
Coping with Loss
The story is about war so many characters in the story are going to be dealing with the loss of friends. Two characters that deal with this are Tim and Rat. Tim has to go through with loss in his past and during the war. Kiowa, one of his friends died while on a mission in Vietnam. It was hard for Tim to deal with, but he got through it and later in the story went to visit his grave site with his daughter, Kathleen. Another character is Rat, whose good friend Curt Lemon died. Curt was Rat's best friend during the war and died because he stepped on a land mine right in front of Rat. Rat, feeling like it was his duty, wrote a letter to Curt's sister who didn't even respond back to Rat even though Rat poured his heart out into the letter. It is going to be hard to go through a war and not deal with loss and the characters in this story show that.
Storytelling: Truth vs. Fiction
Tim has the decision of telling the truth or fiction. When Tim talks about "The man I killed" he says that he threw a grenade and killed someone. Tim says what the man looks like and what he did after he killed him. However later in the story Tim reveals to us that he actually didn't kill anyone. He just wanted make the reader feel the way he felt when the man was killed. Tim also reveals he told the truth though because he says his presence there was also enough to kill the man. Even though Tim can honestly say that he did and didn't kill a man a question is raise. Is it better to tell the truth of fiction?
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