Essay on The Things They Carried

Submitted By thickpiss
Words: 423
Pages: 2

Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is loosely based on the author’s personal experiences while fighting in Vietnam. O’Brien makes the book into a work of fiction by adding and embellishing actual events as well as giving the reader bits of personal information through stories about his war experiences, home and his childhood. O’Brien often brings up the concept of “truth” in his stories by letting the reader understand that although he is not necessarily providing a historically accurate version of something that occurred (such as the killing of an enemy soldier) it doesn’t really matter because it could have happened and it could have happened to anybody who was really there.
The book starts off with a chapter that defines all of the items that the soldiers carried with them. It is interesting to read because one expects it to just be a list of gear, food, drugs and guns but O’Brien makes a point to explain that they are all carrying deep, personal problems such as depression, love, homesickness, guilt and fear. For example, the First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carries letters and a pebble sent to him by a young woman that he knew from home. He spends a great deal of time day-dreaming and fantasizing about what she might be doing at that exact moment and wondering if she is thinking about him. All of this emotional baggage distracted him and eventually led to the death of one of his men. Shortly thereafter, Lt. Cross burns the letters and becomes a much more focused and solid leader.
O’Brien attempts to