Things They Carried By Tim Obrien English Literature Essay

Tim O'Brien was created in 1946, on October 1st. His work mostly reflects his experiences in the Vietnam Warfare. When reading his writings one can see the result that the battle acquired on him; however, the most obvious point in his writing is the impact the Vietnam Battle had on American military in general who fought there. At this time, O'Brien teaches a creative writing program at Minnesota Western world Technical School. O'Brien's creativeness was greatly produced by his activities in Worthington, Minnesota. In 1968, O'Brien dished up 24 months in the Vietnam Conflict. The war assists as an influential storage for his reviews, hence the frequent war stories presented in his writing. After offering in the conflict, O'Brien advanced to graduate college at Harvard School, and later obtained an internship at the Washington Post O'Brien's writing is known as a "blur between fiction and reality". This type of writing is named "metafiction" and contains actual situations in his life mixed with fictitious and exaggerated details. His understanding of writing combined with the compelling war reviews and a Harvard degree donate to engrossing tales of his times in Vietnam. In 1979, O'Brien received the National Book Award for Seeking Cacciato, a publication he published the preceding year.

Tim O'Brien's book THE ITEMS They Carried is prepared into varying measures of chapters. The chapters range between as short as one page to so long as 35-40 pages. For example, the back to again chapters "Enemies" and "Friends" contain a short explanation of occurrences where Dave Jenson and Lee Strunk get into a fist combat and then learn to trust one another. Differential to these chapters are chapters such as "In the Rainy River" which includes long, detailed information of O'Brien's days preceding his departure to Vietnam. A major structural approach that O'Brien uses in The Things They Carried is storytelling. The complete publication is a flashback of the battle in O'Brien's eyes. Each account O'Brien instructs allows the audience to seemingly confront the knowledge in their own eyes and see what it was like. Chronological order is also used to effectively convey enough time sequence in which the incidents in the Vietnam War occurred. Though the novel starts out with a meeting in the center of the Vietnam Conflict, after that it flashes back again to cause the reader to bear in mind the preceding events. The plot of The Things They Carried is mostly a simple plot consisting of tales of O'Brien's experience in the Vietnam War. These varying reports make the story of THE ITEMS They Carried labeled as "multiple plots". The time protected in the book is around three years, starting from enough time O'Brien knew he was going to be drafted, to the end of the battle when he returned to study at Harvard. The start of the novel differs from the end for the reason that O'Brien begins telling his reports of Vietnam with the storyline of the tangible and intangible things that the troops transported with them when struggling. The end of the novel, however, O'Brien not only says his account, but target' more over a stories "power to save people". In order to communicate this to the reader, O'Brien makes direct mention of the death of Linda, and exactly how he successfully handled the "guilt and confusion" of the event.

Point of View

The reports in THE ITEMS They Carried are largely told from O'Brien's first person perspective; however, some experiences are told from the point of view of other troops. This is seemingly done to skillfully provide a different sense of distance from the regular 1st person protagonist' view. The first person perspective is a reminiscent cognizance of O'Brien's and it is informed from his point of view 20 years earlier in his life. In the book, O'Brien is the protagonist in the reviews about himself, but the observer in his stories of other platoon men. There are numerous shifts of point of view in the book, for example, the point of view shifts to Mitchell Sanders' viewpoint to mention one storyline to the reader, while the point of view changes to Rat Kiley's to see another. Similarly, the point of view switches from O'Brien's first person point of view, to a 3rd person point of view when he is relaying a tale where he had not been included. The purpose of the usually first person point of view in The Things They Carried is to give a far more personal aspect of the war reports to the audience. The "storytelling" form that the tales are informed in really helps to give the reader a point of view of a person who was actually there. The 3rd person viewpoint that O'Brien uses to see a few of the war experiences is used to vary the perspective of the reader and present an omniscient view of the storyplot. This is done therefore the reader can certainly visit a specific story that requires one to learn details than a specific character can relay.


The protagonists in the novel are Jimmy Mix, Mitchell Sanders, Tim O'Brien, and Kiowa. The antagonists in the book are Azar and Curt Lemon. But the minor personas are nowhere near as important as O'Brien and some other key people, they still have their own distinct story oftentimes. For instance, Curt Lemon, though a minor character, is highlighted in a story about how exactly he was wiped out while playing with a grenade. These minor facts and participation of the small individuals help add variety to the reports that Tim O'Brien relays to the reader. Two central people in THE ITEMS They Carried are Tim O'Brien and Jimmy Cross. O'Brien is a 22-24 season old soldier (in his testimonies) and it is a round, energetic persona. O'Brien is opposed to war, but is convinced that he has an obligation to his family, being the key reason why he fights. After the war, O'Brien shows intelligence and imagination by recounting occurrences in his literature and through his other writings. "By sharing with testimonies, you objectify your own experience. You divide it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an occurrence that truly took place, like the night in the shit field, and also you carry it forward by inventing occurrences that did not in fact happen but that nonetheless help clarify and discuss. " (158). This estimate shows characteristics of O'Brien by conveying to the reader his profoundness and belief in the energy of report- showing. Another main personality in the book is Jimmy Mix (round, strong), a lieutenant who's responsible for every one of the men. Cross' get older isn't revealed in the e book, but characteristics that summarize him are genuine, well intentioned, and easily guilt tripped. Cross serves as an example of the mental effects of war. A estimate that reveals characteristics of Cross is "He was sensible about it. There was that new hardness in his tummy. He treasured her but he hated her. " This quote reveals characteristics of Combination because it conveys to the reader the potency of his love on him.


There are two time configurations in THE ITEMS They Carried. The first is the overdue 1960's and the second is the later 1980's. The time setting of the past due 1960's is the time of which O'Brien was drafted into the Vietnam Battle, and dished up in the battle. The late 1980's environment is enough time when O'Brien published the novel and relays the stories to the audience. The novel occurs in Vietnam and Massachusetts; Vietnam being where the war happened, and Massachusetts serving as the setting up before the warfare and after the war. The surroundings is generally described in a pessimistic shade, where words like "murky", "muck", and "dark" are being used. Types of this include "began wading hand and hand through the profound muck of the shit field", and "rains had fallen without stop and the muck experienced now risen thigh-deep in the field across the river". Symbolic meanings of the surroundings are strewn throughout the novel with adversely connotated words like "shit" and "murky". These words symbolize the disconsolate and hostile environment constantly adjoining the military and influencing their attitude. The atmosphere created by what describing the surroundings is negative and severe and conveys to the audience that the troops are harmed both internally and externally. The environment is important in the book because they help symbolize the graphic occasions that O'Brien relays and also cause the reports to seem more lifelike and personal to the reader.


The diction in The Things They Carried is generally informal and incredibly connotative. . A good example of this is "We forgot pay. Thos odd careers you done. " (52). The dialogue between military has regular uses of bad sentence structure and inappropriate contractions such as "So what'd this crud job pay?" (53). The explanations that O'Brien relays to the reader through narration, however, is mostly colloquial. Dialogue is constantly used to describe situations O'Brien experienced in the Vietnam Battle. The dialogue varies greatly from the narrative words. The fundamental distinction between the two is the kind of diction; O'Brien's narration is colloquial and sometimes elevated diction, while the dialogue between your military is low, informal, and filled up with slang and crudeness. The dialogue from character to persona is somewhat distinctive for the reason that each identity has areas of speaking that other individuals do not illustrate. For example, Rat runs on the plethera of curse words ["Jesus Christ, man, I write this beautiful fuckin' letter" (69)], while Elroy constantly uses bad grammar ["Those odd careers you done" (53)]. "A friend of his takes killed, so about a week later Rat sits down and writes a notice to the guy's sister. Rat says her what a great brother she experienced, how along the dude was, a number one pal and comrade. A genuine soldier's soldier, Rat says. Then he says a few tales to make the point, how her brother would always volunteer for in a million years, dangerous stuff, like doing recon or going out these really badass evening patrols. Stainless steel balls, Rat tells her. The person was just a little crazy, for certain, but crazy in a good way, a genuine daredevil, because he liked the task from it, he liked testing himself, just man against gook. A great, great dude, Rat says. " (67). The diction O'Brien uses in this passage is easy and low. Slang is utilized constantly and even vulgar words are used. O'Brien may have used this kind of diction to mention his point and characterize Rat as the unkempt vagabond that he is. Words like "really badass" and clichs like "in a million years" cause the reader to truly have a less scholarly mentality and discover Rat's characteristics. This packages the tone of the conflict by effectively portraying fatality, and soldiers' reaction to fatality in the Vietnam Conflict. "Linda was nine then, as I was, but we were in love. And it was real. AFTER I reveal her now, three decades later, it's tempting to dismiss it as a crush, an infatuation of child years, but I understand for an undeniable fact that what we should felt for one another was as profound and abundant as love can ever before get. It got all the shadings and complexities of older adult love, and maybe more, because there have been not yet words for this, and since it was not yet set to comparisons or chronologies or the ways by which adults measure such things. " (228). This passing is different greatly in diction from the prior passage described. The diction in this passage is high and scholarly; it can help convey the deep and profound thoughts O'Brien promises to have had for Linda. Words like "complexities"and "chronologies" converse the love O'Brien has, and unveils his character by performing a heavily extensive description of a love that continues to impact O'Brien years later in his life. Also, this passage sets a more intellectual, profound firmness for the reader and furthers the theme of things military carry with them in war.


The phrases in THE ITEMS They Carried range greatly from extremely easy to complex, apparently unending sentences. The space also ranges from extremely short and simple, to intricate lengthy sentences. The amount of formality is normally neutral when O'Brien is narrating, and falls to casual when dialogue occurs between the soldiers. Types of simple, short phrases include "They get arty and gunships. They contact air strikes. All night long, they just smoking those mountains. They make Jungle drink. Scorch time. It's all flame. " (75). Lengthy, sophisticated sentences are confirmed in passages like "One particular real solid, real misty days-just clouds and fog, they're off in this special zone-and the mountains are absolutely dead-flat silent. " (75). Although fragments, rhetorical questions, and parallel framework is not used in the book, repetitions are habitually used in O'Brien's descriptions. Types of this are the usage of "they" at the beginning of the sentences in "They get arty and gunships. They contact air strikes. They fuckin' crash that cocktail get together. They make jungle drink. They blow away trees and glee night clubs" (75), "A genuine soldier's soldier" (67), and "A great, great man" (67). These repetitions are used to convey a point to the reader. That time being what all the soldier's do (the repetition of they), a pun on the word soldier (the trunk to back utilization of soldier), and stressing that the man who died was great. O'Brien uses syntax through regular repetitions and use of simple sentences to create a short, simplistic tempo of describing something; however, when showing a story, O'Brien uses complex sentences to get into information and aide the reader in exceptional story easier. Furthermore, O'Brien also uses complex sentences to enhance effect by going into detailed description of environment and the troops' environment. "A friend of his gets killed, so in regards to a week later Rat sits down and creates a notice to the guy's sister. Rat instructs her what a great brother she got, how collectively the dude was, a number one pal and comrade. A real soldier's soldier, Rat says. Then he tells a few reports to make the point, how her brother would always volunteer for in a million years, dangerous products, like doing recon or going out these really badass night time patrols. Stainless steel balls, Rat tells her. The guy was just a little crazy, for certain, but crazy in a great way, a real daredevil, because he liked the challenge than it, he liked evaluating himself, just man against gook. An excellent, great dude, Rat says. " (67). This quotation previously mentioned in information of diction uses syntax through repetition and prolonged sentences to make a storytelling result. This storytelling effect causes the reader to more effectively see the characteristics of Rat and moreover, the reactions of troops when a comrade dies. These help specify character by uncovering Rat's matter-of-fact characteristics. The syntax also packages the build by portraying loss of life in the Vietnam Battle and preserving a somber, despairing firmness.

Concrete Fine detail/Imagery

Sight: "Her attractive blue eyes seemed to shine. " (96). This estimate attracts site by talking about the color and the result of Mary Anne's sight. The function of the imagery in this example is to mention Rat's thoughts toward Mary Anne by showing the reader a declaration that he made about her. This is obvious through Rat expressing "This seventeen-year-old doll" (96). Thus confirming the positively connotated emotions Rat has toward Mary Anne. Touch: "There is some pain, no doubt, however in the morning hours Curt Lemon was all smiles. " (88). This quote conveys to the reader the value of preserving a "tough" reputation. That is obvious because the "pain" experienced was completely unnecessary, and was only brought about through Curt Lemons aspire to redeem himself from feinting before going to the dental practitioner. Smell: "During the night I'd go home smelling of pig. " (43). This smell-appealing offer serves to convey to the reader the hardships of employed in the meatpacking herb where O'Brien got previously worked well (before the war). The "smelling of pig" transfers to the reader the distaste that O'Brien got for going to the meatpacking herb everyday and, everyday, approaching home with an awful stench. Reading: "Not really a single sound, except they still notice it. " (75). This quote follows a passing about when warfare in Vietnam gets quite on "One particular real heavy, real misty days and nights" (75). The sound-appealing offer serves expressing more effects of the war. The fact that "they still hear it" portrays the scarring efficiency of being a soldier because the platoon men still listen to war noises (in their head) even over a quite night. Style: "he taken the pebble in his oral cavity, turning it with his tongue, tasting sea sodium and moisture content. " (8). This charm to taste symbolizes the idea of how much is recinded during war. Due to all the hardships in the war, Cross helps to keep a pebble in his mouth simply to tastes the saltiness and moisture content. Thus giving the reader a good example of how much is taken from a soldier once he is drafted into the war.


Although the novel is not highly symbolic, O'Brien uses certain personas in the booklet to signify something with an increase of visual value to the reader. One icon is the man that O'Brien is not sure if he killed or not. "His jaw was in his neck, his top lip and tooth were removed, his one eyeball was shut" (124). These explanations are of the person that O'Brien thinks he wiped out with a grenade. The horrific, graphic representation of the man serves to symbolize O'Brien not wanting to believe that he had considered a man's life. The man is symbolic for the guilt that troops feel when they get rid of someone. Another icon in The Things They Carried is Kathleen, O'Brien's girl. Kathleen symbolizes the individuals who O'Brien relays his testimonies to. Directly informing his war tales to her causes her to respond to his experiences, and represents visitors who answer through reading the novel. "When she was nine, my daughter Kathleen asked if I had ever killed anyone. " (131). This quotation further makes Kathleen symbolism evident. Asking about situations in O'Brien's life sets off a tale that he will tell her, exactly like his writings and reports that he relays to his readers. Lastly, Linda will serve as symbolic of past occurrences that resurface during history informing. "Linda was nine then, when i was, but we were in love. And it was real. WHILE I write about her now, three decades later, it's tempting to dismiss it as a crush, an infatuation of childhood, but I know for a fact that what we should felt for one another was as profound and abundant as love can ever before get. " (228). The mention of Linda thirty years later in his life discloses Linda's symbolism by conveying to the reader that previous events are brought back through story showing. This is indicated through "AFTER I write about her now, three decades later. " Revealing to the reader about a past experience with Linda thirty years back reveals Linda as the sign and shows that past situations, and even people from the past, are brought back through storytelling and creativity.

Figurative Language

Figurative language is employed constantly in the book to give viewers a reference then one to compare O'Brien's reports too. For example, similes such as "I felt an abrupt swell of helplessness come over me, a drowning discomfort, as if I had formed toppled overboard" (57), and "A killer, he said-like a nail in his jaw. " (88). Cause the reader to connect a meeting O'Brien is talking about to occasions that they know more about. All viewers have not experienced "a sudden swell of helplessness", but "toppling overboard" is something that everyone can relate to, whether they have directly experienced or not, since it can be an easily imaginable event. Also, although not everyone has experienced a teeth being a taken, "just like a nail in his jaw" conveys the terrible pain that tooth pulling causes since it, also, can be an easily imaginable event. Furthermore, rhetorical questions are being used on webpage 56 when O'Brien says "What could you do? Might you jump? Would you feel pity for your self? Would you think about your family as well as your childhood Would it feel just like dying? Do you cry, as I did?" he gives the reader thoughts about what they might do if they were in his situation. This can help the audience more straight experience what O'Brien experienced when he was in Canada by making the reader consider what they would do, and how they would behave in his situation. The effect that the figurative terminology is wearing the novel all together is the result of making the reader put themselves in O'Brien's shoes. Considering similar situations (similes, metaphors) and thinking about how they might behave (rhetorical questions) apparently channels O'Brien's thoughts in those days, to the audience simply reading about his experience.

Ironic Devices

Ironic devices are used often in THE ITEMS They Carried expressing the irony brought about by war. For example, O'Brien says "I was too good for this war. Too smart, too compassionate, too everything. " (41). This statement is ironic because O'Brien thought he was too good to be in the conflict and had a poor attitude when he received drafted, but following the battle, O'Brien was a soldier who noticed the effects that the battle got on him, and the importance of emotional feelings during his time offering in Vietnam. This assertion conveys to the reader that O'Brien believe war comes with an extremely profound and life-changing effect on its troops. Another example of irony is "The battle over and there is no place in particular to move. " (137). This affirmation is ironic because during the war, the soldiers always complained and wished that that they had flexibility; however, when they finally acquired their liberty and weren't forced to fight any longer, that they had nowhere going. Irony is further described in this declaration by the actual fact that during the war, the military always experienced a place to stay. And perhaps if that place was outdoors in the middle

of the woods, it best suited them. "Death sucks" mentioned on webpage 243 by Mitchell Sanders is an understatement because Sanders requires a complex, emotional event such as loss of life and sums it up in one expression. This ironic device it intended to convey the importance of maintaining a positive attitude during war. If a soldier starts pondering negatively and thinks there is nothing at all to live for, then all is designed for nothing. Retaining a good attitude helps the soldier combat on and persevere in order to come back home. O'Brien uses ironic devices throughout the book to convey styles to the reader such as maintaining a good attitude during war, but also to portray the irony of battle itself. This is exemplified by the change of O'Brien's attitude from the beginning to the end of the conflict.


The firmness in THE ITEMS They Carried is a generally pessimistic firmness where Tim O'Brien relays to the audience the important mix of fact and fabrication in a war tale. The narration and ram report that O'Brien explains to the reader creates a didactic tone through the explanations of reasons and methods used when revealing a story. With the references to a mix of fiction and truth in a warfare tale, O'Brien creates less of your storytelling tone and much more of any imaginative firmness which subconsciously causes the reader to fabricate on their own and exaggerate the testimonies by imagining them in their own way. "By revealing to reviews, you objectify your own experience. You divide it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You constitute others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly took place, like the night in the shit field, and you also carry it frontward by inventing happenings that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help clarify and describe. " (158). This quote helps create the imaginative tone by discussing "creating others" and "carrying it forward by inventing occurrences that did not in reality occur". Making up stories relates to imagination and causes the imaginative shade, while inventing occurrences functions as a simile for making up experiences, and causes the same result. "I experienced isolated; I spent lots of time exclusively. " (43). This quote sparks a pessimistic firmness by referring to isolation and on your time in an interval of warfare. Both which are negative occurrences and seemingly "rub off" on the reader to build the pessimistic shade.


Themes in The Things They Carried include physical burdens caused by war, psychological hindrance brought on by war, and the amount of fact in storytelling is normally little. Physical burdens caused by war are present in the book through the simple physical atrocities the military experienced in the Vietnam Warfare. The psychological hindrance caused by warfare is a theme in THE ITEMS They Carried through the personal references to love (Mix' love for Martha, O'Brien's love for Linda) and the psychological burden of killing a guy and death (O'Brien killing the person with the grenade, the deaths of the military around him). Love, loss of life, and killing each influence the soldiers greatly and put mental toil about them throughout the book. Cross is continually reminded of Martha and thinks about her, O'Brien makes reference to Linda in his storytelling, and each soldier is doubtful how to deal with deaths around them and eliminating other men. Probably the most visible and central theme in the publication is the amount of fact in storytelling. O'Brien constantly makes recommendations to "inventing incidences" and "making up certain truths" to be able to convey the blur of truth and fiction in battle stories. The reference to fiction discloses that O'Brien is wanting to avoid recounting the Vietnam Battle as a history book; he's trying to tell his experiences to entice the audience and establish ways in which a soldier will connect with his viewers, or basically bore them with an insipid recount of a meeting in his life. Prominent motifs in The Things They Carried are storytelling and isolation. Storytelling is conveyed as a powerful tool in O'Brien's sight, and throughout the book, O'Brien intends to cause the audience to see its electric power. Isolation

is a dominant motif in THE ITEMS They Carried as a result of referrals to loneliness and isolation as a dangerous force when the first is in war. O'Brien intends to talk to the audience that isolation is really as destructive a power as any other hardships experienced in Vietnam.

Significance of the Title

The title THE ITEMS They Carried makes direct reference to the physical and mental "things" that the soldiers in Vietnam transported with them throughout being in the warfare. Physical things such as guns, ammunition, food, and drinking water, are transported to make it through and keep the military healthy, while intangible ideas are carried with the military seemingly to keep a healthy mentality and keep them feeling as though they are simply preventing for something. For example, "they taken unrelenting images of a nightmarish battle that history is only starting to absorb. " (Rear cover). This offer talks about an intangible thing that the military taken with them in the war. This accurately portrays the effects of the battle on its troops. Soldiers having to battle in the war don't go back home unscathed even if they weren't physically injured. Each soldier goes home "carrying" thoughts of guilt, distress, and "unrelenting images", whilst every soldier still struggling with in the war provides their love, love, and determination, each being truly a motivating force to come back home safely and securely. Before reading the novel, one might only think of tangible things being carried through the battle, but after beginning the novel, and finishing it, it's the intangible things like love, love, and images, that are the most crucial things in the readers head. After reading THE ITEMS They Taken it is obvious to the reader that the psychological things being "carried" have a much bigger influence on troops than simple materials used for success.

Memorable Quotes

"Linda was nine then, when i was, but we were in love. And it was real. WHILE I write about her now, three generations later, it's tempting to dismiss it as a crush, an infatuation of childhood, but I understand for an undeniable fact that whatever we felt for each other was as profound and abundant as love can ever get. It possessed all the shadings and complexities of mature adult love, and perhaps more, because there were not yet words for it, and since it was not yet fixed to evaluations or chronologies or the ways by which adults measure might be found. " (228). This also is one of many rates in the e book because it conveys to the reader the energy that storytelling has. An event occurring three years before the relaying of the Vietnam Conflict is raised through O'Brien's recounts due to ability of storytelling. The mention of a apparently unrelated event is brought out through telling stories of the Vietnam Battle, and the reader is more easily brought to start to see the emotional profoundness that conflict brings about in its soldiers.

"By telling reports, you objectify your own experience. You divide it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You begin sometimes with an incident that truly occurred, like the night time in the shit field, therefore you carry it frontward by inventing happenings that did not in fact happen but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain. " (158). This is one of the main estimates in the booklet since it exemplifies the key idea of the publication: the mix of real truth and fiction in storyline -revealing. This quote sums up the idea that factual events don't have the same moral effect on visitors as a fictional event with more passion included.

"They carried the soldier's ideal fear, that was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed never to. It was what had helped bring them to the war to begin with, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to stay away from the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to perish of embarrassment. " (41). That is a significant quotation because it gives the reader a sense of how important being "tough" was in the war. It communicates to the reader that the men in the Vietnam Warfare feared shame above all else, and that pity that they feared was the effect of a simple problem in maintaining a hardcore impression.

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