The Things They Carried Essay

Topics: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam War, Communism Pages: 4 (1347 words) Published: March 12, 2014

The Things They Carry Essay
Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a classic novel that depicts the lives of foot soldiers during the Vietnam War. O’ Brien explores the emotional and physical suffering of the men, the lost of innocence, the loss of morality, and the absurdity of the U.S. involvement of this war through a number of literary devices. Through a series of short stories, Tim O’Brien tells the story of the men he has met and the reality of war from his perspective.

The Vietnam War initially started when Ho Chi Minh, a nationalist leader of Vietnam, declared Vietnam and independent country from France. This was spurred on by the spread of communism from China. The French were forced out of Vietnam and Vietnam became separate, communists in the north and the French supporters in the south. The south grew increasingly weak, the communists stronger, and the United States felt it was time to intervene for the fear of the spread of communism, known as the “domino theory.” When America joined the war, they thought it would’ve been an easy win, but Vietnam used guerilla warfare and the war dragged on for over 18 years. As first, people supported the war and the idea of stopping communism, but as more and more soldiers got killed, the number of protests increased. The horrors he experienced as a soldier of this unexpected war is what inspired Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

Tim O’Brien characterizes the emotional burdens the men experiences through the physical things that these men carry. Each of the men carries a few items of sentimental value that carries the emotional burdens they have. Lieutenant Cross’s love for Martha is characterized through a photo of Martha and letters from her he has. This love becomes a burden because it conflicts with the responsibility he has of the men he’s in charge of. He believes his love for Martha is distracting. When Ted Lavender died, Lieutenant Cross suffered from shame and self-hatred, as he felt...
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