What is the significance of the title? What does it refer to? Explain with references to the text, especially the first chapter.
The significance of the title is the tone and vibe it has as well as the length. The title is four letters which is short, undescriptive and unspecific to what they carried physically or mentally. This draws the reader in as their own imagination kicks in and floods them with ideas of what they could’ve carried, they quickly become interested and eager to find out the truth. Reading the title “The Things They Carried” out loud sounds depressing and gives the reader that this isn’t going to be a happy-ever-after clichéd story. The tone also implies that there is going to be some kind of physical or mental struggle and pain. The word “carried” is a very boring word used for everyday and ‘chore like’ activities i.e. compulsory acts. It implies that they had no choice of what they carried and what they carried with them, they had to and couldn’t complain.
The title refers to the things they carried that could save them but consequently weighed a lot, causing strain on their bodies, “Henry Dobbins carried the M-60, which weighed 23 pounds unloaded, but which was almost always loaded…. He carried between 10 and 15 pounds of ammunition…” It also refers to the things that would weaken and torture them, the sights they witnessed that would rot inside them and would never fade from their memory.
“They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.” (pg 7) - explain what you think this quote means and how it links to/ relates to the title.
The first part if the quote, “they carried all they could bear,” explains how the soldiers physically pushed themselves to the limits, in terms of what their body-type could handle. It gives the reader an imagery of men with several things strapped around their torso, with a rucksack and both hands holding weapons of mass destruction. However some of the men may not have realized the type of harmful weaponry they would carry. They now they may disagree as they become aware of the potential power and destructions their weapons have, creating guilt and self-disgust within them – another burdensome thing to carry.
The second part of the quote, “and then some” implies the men carried more emotional baggage on top of their physical load. It also implies that the men have over stepped their mental capacity to handle emotionally traumatic experiences and now ‘brush it off’ and bottle their emotions within. The words “and then some” gives the reader the suspicion that the men are being modest and that there is more than a ‘silent awe’ that they carried. But because they are in a situation where you cannot complain or talk about what you witness and take part in, they have adapted to this style and keep it vague when talking about traumatic experiences.
The “silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried” is the shock they felt when the men realized what they truly signed up by joining the war. They were exposed to the gruesome truth that they carried the lives of many innocent civilians – yet another troublesome thing they carried. The reason behind the ‘silent’ awe is…