Most authors who write about war stories write vividly; this is the same with Tim O’Brien as he describes the lives of the soldiers by using his own experiences as knowledge. In his short story “The Things They Carried” he skillfully reveals realistic scenes that portray psychological, physical and mental burdens carried by every soldier. He illustrates these burdens by discussing the weights that the soldiers carry, their psychological stress and the mental stress they have to undergo as each of them endure the harshness and ambiguity of the Vietnam War. One question we have to ask ourselves is if the three kinds of burdens carried by the soldier’s are equal in size? “As if in slow motion, frame by frame, the world would take on the old
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Cross being the leader of the platoon had the most amount of responsibility on his shoulders and yet he was the most distracted one of the lot. An example of his carelessness is his letting the soldiers smoke dope, another is allowing the men to drop essential supplies along the route and acting more like a comrade than a leader. Other men had responsibilities as well, Dobbins the machine gunner, Mitchell Sanders the RTO and Rat Kiley the medic. He is mentally burdened by his jealousy. He is being jealous when he had no right to, and this just makes him more distracted and as a result endangers the lives of his men more. The killing and destroying of villages and animals are signs of the consequences of the mental burdens and the mental state of the soldiers. Lavender’s death affects every soldier mentally to the extent that some would just keep talking about how he fell dead in a flash. Everything seemed worse than it actually was. The climate and weather conditions in Vietnam were harsh and acted as a topping to the soldiers’ mental burdens. Many soldiers were not volunteers for the war but have been drafted. This would mean that they were not necessarily ready for war; “Afterward, when the firing ended, they would blink and peek up. They would touch their bodies, feeling shame, then quickly hiding it.”(79). The sound imagery of the firing and screaming describes the mental breakdown of some of the soldiers.
Psychological burdens are perhaps the result