The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien

Essay analysis on the novel The Things they Carried.
Double space
12pt font Times New Roman
Must be 850 words
Third person point of view


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Consider things you carry on a daily basis, or have carried in the past that were significant or necessary. A wallet. A special necklace. A gifted keychain. An old picture in your wallet or handbag. A ring you never remove. A lighter with special meaning. Unless an item is in your wallet or purse or on your person, the list might be fairly limited (or not, depending on your situation).

Thinking a little more deeply, metaphorically, what about the things we carry psychologically? Spiritually? Politically? Culturally? O’Brien is talking about all these things as the book progresses, is he not?

Look in your wallet or purse. Maybe a bookbag. Empty it. What’s in there? What’s significant? What might be called a spiritual good luck talisman? An item that connects you with another? A symbol of love. Or hate. Something you have to have. Something that has power over you. How about your jewelry? What does what you carry say about you?

This is what author Tim O’Brien was getting at in his novel of stories, The Things They Carried. He wanted to tell soldiers’ stories, but in a different way. How clever to do it through the vehicle of how what they kept on them told the stories of who the men were, before, during, and after the Vietnam War.

The same stories could be told in the same way about men and women involved in the conflicts in Afghanistan (a conflict now longer than even the Vietnam War) and Iraq. World War II or the First World War. The Civil War.

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The things they carry could be applied to socio-political conflicts as well. Think about what people have when they are engaged in political movements and religious movements.

Think about all this when you’re analyzing this novel in stories. For more information on The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien check out:

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