Argumentative Essay on The things they carried

This essay has a total of 1106 words and 5 pages.

the things they carried

The things they carried,by Tim O'brien

"Oh man, you fuckin' trashed the fucker. You scrambled his sorry self, look at that, you
did, you laid him out like fuckin' Shredded Wheat." I chose to start off my essay with
this particular exert from the book because I think that it very much represents the story
in itself. Azar said this, after Tim (supposedly) killed a Vietnamese soldier with a hand
grenade. It shows that in times of war, how callous men can become. However, callousness
varies, whether they chose to be apathetic, like Tim shows us after his grenade episode.
Or whether they choose to be more myopic, as shown through Azar's insensitive actions
(i.e. the young lady's tragic loss, the puppy, need I say more?). "The things they
carried" by Tim O'Brien is a tale, not about war, but rather about war's affect on one's
mentality.


In "the things they carried", author Tim O'Brien tries to teach readers that war changes
people, by using baggage as a symbol throughout the book. Ultimately, "the things they
carried" is literally built on a foundation of the things they carried. Whether it's the
way Jimmy Cross uses the pebble to escape from his duties as a soldier. Or the way that
they all look up to the pantyhose as an almost godly relic. All the way to Norman Bowker
finally realizing that courage comes from within, not from winning the Silver Star. These
things, made up the soldiers attributes, made up the soldiers' persona, made up the
soldier. But they didn't stop at the soldier; certain items characterized all the soldiers
as a collective group. It even went as far as to describe an entire group by the things
all of them carried, of course being the green berets. There were no single green berets
just a group; nobody made an effort to distinguish one from another. Like the way we make
no effort to name each and every cell in our body, they are just smaller pieces that make
up one entity.


Throughout the entire book, O'Brien makes several references to how normal men can
completely change their persona if placed in such an environment. I picked four instances,
which truly represented how the mind changes. When Dave Jensen broke lee trunk's nose, he
became absolutely paranoid about every aspect of his life. The young lady who began going
on ambush's with the green berets also shows how people can be reconditioned by war. Bobby
Jorgensen cowardly hesitated and nearly cost Tim his life, but it was later learned that
he had matured through experience. Even the author undergoes an incredible change from the
beginning of the story, and through the trials and tribulations, he becomes an almost
completely different person. Although there were more situations in which this particular
change was exhibited, I feel that these represented it to the most acute degree.


Incredible paranoia is one side effect of being surrounded by so much carnage. After Lee
Strunk comes back from the undertakings involving his broken nose, Dave Jensen went into a
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