Tim O’Brien’s collection of connected short tales, The Things They Carried, is about an American unit fighting in Vietnam. In addition to referring to the troops’ actual belongings, such as their guns, ammo, and survival gear, the book’s title also alludes to the psychological and emotional weights they bore.
In addition to examining the intricate connections amongst the soldiers, O’Brien delves into the psychological and physical effects of battle. Along with these topics, he looks at the nature of narrative, reality, and how we may accept the atrocities of war.
The tangible items they carried
The warriors bore huge loads on their backs, both physically and metaphorically. Weighting up to eighty pounds, they carried their guns, ammo, and survival supplies. Their helmets, boots, and outfits added to their weight. The troops bore the psychological and emotional toll of combat in addition to their physical wounds. They had to watch and participate in violent acts frequently, and they always lived in terror of dying or being hurt.
The items they held within their hearts
The warriors bore immense emotional weight in addition to their physical ones. They were burdened by the loss of allies and friends. Being alive when others had not absolved them of guilt. They had a fear of expiration. And they were burdened by their own memories, both pleasant and unpleasant.
The items they symbolically carried
Additionally, the items the troops carried were symbolic. The M-16 weapon they carried, for instance, served as a symbol of the death and brutality they encountered every day. The helmet they were wearing stood for the necessity of shielding oneself from injury, both psychological and physical. The lengthy and challenging journey they were on was symbolized by the boots they carried.
What they continued to do after the war
The warriors carried the memories of their experiences with them long after the conflict ended. They had psychological and bodily wounds from the conflict. They carried the companions’ memories with them. They were burdened by the knowledge that they had done something they would never forget.
The Things They Carried delves into the psychological and physical effects of war in a profound and poignant way. Long after you’ve finished reading it, the book will continue to have an impact on you.