The Things They Carried

Written by Tim O'Brien

The horror of war

The men in Alpha Company go through immence hardships and grotesque situations during their service. Most if not all of the men have witnessed friends or somebody they knew get killed. The medic Rat Kiley watches his best friends body parts fly into a tree after he steps on a land mine. Norman Bowker heres his friend Kiowa screaming as he gets hit with a mortor and fails to save his life when he gets sucked under the quicksand like mud and drowns. A soldier is never the same after he has been to war. One tends to see his lost comrades and the men he has killed. Normen Bowker never got over the guilt of Kiowas death and ends up taking his own life in the locker room of a YMCA. War changes a person, physically and emotionally.

Coping with loss

Threw out the book soldiers and friends die. And people deal with it in different ways. Coping with loss is something everyone must learn not just soldiers. Some people cant handle it because they are consumed with guilt and anger. Norman Bowker is one of those persons who just could not get over the loss of his friend Kiowa. Bowker ended up taking his own life a couple years after he returned home. Tim O'brien returned to Vietnam years later to place Kiowas moccasins in the spot that they found his body as some sort of relief towards the death of his lost comrade. Jimmy Cross, the platoon leader puts his past aside and straitens up the platoon after Ted Lavender gets killed. Cross blames himself for Lavenders death so he promises to never let himself slip away from the war again and become a better leader. everybody has a different way of coping with loss.

Coping with guilt

In war you do things that you never forget. Many soldiers feel guilty about many acts they commit and orders they must carry out. Guilt is something that plagues us all and like loss we all have are different ways of dealing with it. After Ted Lavender got killed, Jimmy Cross dug himself a hole to sit in and cry. Crying was the only thing he could do at the time to deal with his pain. Cross feels responsible for the death of Lavender because he was their leader and its his job to keep them safe and he failed. Jimmy Cross is a different man after that day at forgets everything but his duty to his men and country. Norman Bowker felt that he could have saved Kiowa if he had only gotten there faster. His strong sense of guilt leads to suicide. Guilt is something that we all must get over one day.

Storytelling: truth vs. fiction

In war you tend to here stories. Some may be true but other could very well be made up. But even a fake story has a moral that could very well make it just as true as any. The book The Things They Carried is true, but not really. The book represents what happened over in Vietnam in a historical fictional sense. The book consist of many stories told by soldiers. These stories could be fake or true, it doesn't matter, as long as you understand what the story means. The character Mitchel Sanders tells allot of stories about ghosts and creepy missions that he hears from other soldiers who probably heard it from another. These stories are most defiantly fake but represent the horrors of war and the things the soldiers went through.

The gender disconnect when it comes to war

Back in the day woman were not allowed to be in the military. They could be nurses but not soldiers. Rat Kiley tells a story of a soldier at a military base by the Song Tra Bong river who has his girlfriend smuggled into vietnam to be with him. The two are deeply in love and plan to get married after the war. The girlfriend becomes obsessed with vietnam and starts to change. She eventually starts disapeering at night and the soldier suspects that she is cheeting on him. Turns out she has been going on missions with the green Berette squadron stationed at the base. She becomes a killing machine and a great soldier. This shows how much war can change a person. The girlfriend starts off as a sweet, naive, loving girl and transformes into a war loving fighting machine who can disassemble and reassemble a gun faster then her soldier boyfriend. This story also proves that gender does not effect how good of a soldier you are. This girl became a better soldier than her boyfriend with in a month.


Author is unknown "Vietnam....A young Marine wounded by a Viet Cong booby trap is comforted by a fellow Marine."Photograph. Wikimedia Commons. Web. November 8th, 2012

Author is unknown. "Destruction by Viet Cong." Photograph. Wikimedia Commons. November 8th, 2012.,_1964,_Viet_Cong_terrorists_exploded_a_bomb_in_the_garage_area_underneath_the_Brinks..._-_NARA_-_542301.tif

Wayne Ray. "Looking Back." Photograph. Wikimedia Commons. November 8th, 2012.

Enriquecardova at en. wikipedia."ghost trees" Photograph. Wikimedia Commons. 15 January 2011(2011-01-15). . . . .. Web November 8th, 2012.

Man woman icon. Picture. Wikimedia Commons. July 11th 2007. Web. November 8th, 2012.