Reflections on The Things They Carried Essay

This essay has a total of 860 words and 4 pages.

Reflections on The Things They Carried



Reflections on "The Things They Carried"
Analyzing the story’s craftsmanship Tim O’Brien wrote a story that is known as "The Things
They Carried." It is a carefully crafted, detailed account of a Lieutenant and his men,
the time period being right in the middle of the Vietnam war. In most war stories the
author spends most of his or her time describing actions and events to the reader, trying
to really put the reader "right there" in the middle of everything that is happening.
However, O’Brien drifts away from that trend here, hardly describing any events of
importance to any one but me sign. Rather, he focuses on the thoughts of the soldiers, the
inner feelings, small personal day dreams and strange things that really describe the men.
Being out in the wilderness, far from home or anything they recognize, these men must deal
with the mental and physical stresses of war, when they jion the army I see it as signing
away there souls they are then asked to murder people over stupid issues. Here is where
O’Brien starts up his literary art form. One thing that was interesting to mention is that
I noticed when reading the story is the fact that the story is written in third person.
The narrator is not actually in the story, merely telling us of the events, and yet we
still get to see inside Lt. Cross’s mind to more accurately picture his feelings. The
narrator also, although letting us see the innermost, personal thoughts of Cross, always
refers to the Lieutenant as either "he,", "him," or "Lt. Cross," never speaking of him by
only his first name, which may seem rather formal. Also, it is odd that O’Brien the
aurthor should choose the third person to write in when creating a story such as this one.
Usually when an author wants the reader to feel what the main character is feeling, they
will write the story in the first person point of view, to give the events and thoughts a
more personal touch. However, the way O’Brien phrases his sentences, it is really very
simple for the reader to get that accurate feeling for the main character, even! though it
is not the main character speaking. For example, on the next to last page of the story,
there is a large piece that speaks about Lt. Cross’s feelings. "On the morning after Ted
Lavender died, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross crouched at the bottom of his foxhole and
burned Martha’s letters. Then he burned the two photographs. There was a steady rain
falling. . . He realized it was only a gesture. Stupid, he thought. Sentimental, too, but
mostly just stupid. Lavender was dead. You couldn’t burn the blame." (Hansen, 436) This
section is very vivid in the portrayal of Lt. Cross. The reader can easily see the man,
crouching in the bottom of a muddy hole, burning photographs while thinking of a terrible
blame he felt was his: it is a sad scene to picture. Another thing O’Brien does in his
story is, as I mentioned above, to concentrate more on thoughts and seemingly minor
details rather than on events. In the story, O’Brien skips the burning of a village in
just a simple remark that makes it almost feel like an afterthought. ("Afterward they
burned Than Khe." Hansen, 427) But, he spends almost half of the story explaining what
exactly the men carried with them, going into full detail of why they carried these
things, how much they weighed, etc. This is for a very good reason, though. O’Brien uses
this weight factor as a symbolism and parallel to the "weight" of the emotional baggage
and mental conflicts the men must also carry with them as they trek through this strange
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