The things they carried

Thethings they carried

Theprotagonist in the book is Tim O`Brien, who begins the book bydescribing his events and experiences, which occurred during the warbetween the US and the Vietnam (Bloom, 35). He introduces severalcharacters in the book who were part of the 23rd Infantry Division, athird platoon. The book wasinitially publishedin 1990 by Houghton Mifflin and the works contained in the book arelargely metafictional, whereby the author employs a verisimilitudewriting tactic.

Inthe book, a reader is introduced to a lieutenant by the Jimmy namecross who was the leader of the squad during the war in Vietnam.Cross isdescribedas carrying some physical objects that are meant to remind him ofMartha that represented asymbolof unrequited love (Bloom, 39). In the book, it is very apparent fromthe author that the war in Vietnam became a constant phenomenon inthe human race and one that people could not move away from even whenthey try to move on with their lives.

Thenature of war is thus described to be parasitic, in that it eats onthe victims in their entire lives. This parasite isdescribedto a dangerous organism that depends on the host for food, holder andits development. While the parasite is taking all this benefits, thehost is suffering and harming during the process(Gratch,71).Therefore,the relationship between the organism known as the parasite and thehost is not mutually symbiotic. The war, in this case, tales the formof the parasite, and the soldier is the host in whom the parasitedwells.

Throughoutthe book, war is portrayed to have this parasitic nature. In aparticular instance, the author T. O`Brien goes back to war inVietnam with his daughter. Despite the fact it has been twenty yearssince the war ended, it isseenas if all the thoughts of O`Brien have been stuck to the time hespent in the war. O`Brien and his daughter are seen to travel in thevarious parts of the country, but just before they depart, he returnsto Vietnam, to the very battlefield where there was war(Bloom,60).The place he felt that he lost everything that he owned.He also feels that his respect and honor wasloston the battlefield, he also adds to the list the loss of his bestfriend and self-confidence that is described as faith in oneself.

Theconcept of war as a parasite is not only evident in the return ofO`Brien to Vietnam, but also the continued repetition of the talesthat took place in the war that are seen to flow in the subsequentstories in the book. Theauthor brings out this concept of the parasitic form for example inchapter ‘speaking of courage’ where another character by the nameNorman who comes back home after the war finds himself put a newspin(Bloom,89) where he finds things are not being the same as heleft them before the war.He soul lacks space back in the society and therefore, war is hispart of life. Norman feels as if he is not at the same level of thesociety and people don’t seem to understand him either. He latercommits suicide due to this feeling, since it was too much for him tobear.

Inanother incidence, Jimmy cross a friend of O`Brien came to visit himafter the war, where they talked about their hardships andexperiences in the battlefield. This part of the book reveals thateven Cross has never been able to move on with life even after thewar (Bloom, 100).He has a baggage of secrets that weigh heavily onhis mind and soul that prevent him from moving on with life despitethe fact that he is now a civilian. On the part of O`Brien, he is notwilling to open up his heart on what he feel to cross but it isevident that he is also bothered by these experiences(Wiener,86).Thesetwo incidences emphasize the fact that the nature of war isparasitic.

Onthe nature of human being in the war, the book gives an insight intothe personal experience of O`Brien, who goes to war as a scared youngman with the fear of shame that if he avoids the war, he would beguilty(Wiener,60).Hewill not be in a position of being at the forefront of telling thetales of war. Therefore, he goes to the battlefield so as to be ableto cope with these painful and torturing memories. Thebook provides a guide and an explanation of how extreme situations inwaterfront can turn the nature of a rational human being into a manwho has no heart for human dignity and is therefore transformed intoa being that carries out despicable acts, and he indeed lusts formost irrational and cruel things(Gratch,75).Inthe book, it is evident that the soldiers rational characters fadesaway leaving them as different kind of beings(Wiener,70).Thestory hence gives a universal human character an insight and anopportunity to be able to comprehend the nature of human in war fromvarious perspectives.

Thereis also a deceitful nature of human being that isseenwhen the writer O`Brien is asked by his daughter if he has everkilled anyone. The response from him is the complete opposite of whathe did. He tells his daughter that he has never killed, but at thesame time, he remembers a moment that he killed a man on the trail.It is at this point that he opines that real truth does not have tobe the same as story truth.

Despiteall these horrors and wars described in the book, the war in Vietnamwas not all terror and violence. At times, things were good and evensweet(Wiener,130).The author shows thing by remembering instances such as where thelittle boy came and had a plastic leg. The boy went to one of thesoldiers by the name Azar and requested for a piece of chocolate, andAzar gave it to the boy(Gratch,73).Laterafter the boy had gone away, Azar is heard saying that war is abitch, shaking his head sadly because the boy had lost his leg justbecause of war.This part shows that human beings are not alwaysviolent, and they can be merciful and shun away from war since theyknow its cost to the society and community.

Inconclusion, the book highlights a more substantive fact that waroccurs accidentally, without giving any sign of warning and humanbeings should not take for granted freedom that comes with peacefulco-existence.


Bloom,Harold. TimO`brien`s The Things They Carried.Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005. Print: p. 89-100

Wiener,Gary.&nbspWarin Tim O`brien`s the Things They Carried.Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Print: p. 60-130)

Bloom,Harold.&nbspTimO`brien`s the Things They Carried.Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005. Internet resource:p.35- 67.

Gratch,Ariel. `Teaching Identity Performance Through Tim O`brien`s TheThings They Carried.`CommunicationTeacher29.2 (2015): 71-75.