"The Weight of the Things Carried" Book: "The Things They Carried" Author: Tim O'Brien

Topics: Vietnam War, Army, Mass Pages: 4 (1157 words) Published: March 7, 2010
In the book titled, The Things They Carried, the author, Tim O' Brien, depicts a world where traumatic memories and crushing emotional baggage are far heavier than any combat pack or assortment of weapons that has ever burdened the back of a soldier. The author, O'Brien, explores the physical and emotional burdens that the soldiers of the Vietnam War "hump" or carry with them. The author portrays the things the soldiers carry throughout the story as both literally tangible items and figuratively intangible burdens. The reader is able to learn a great deal about the soldiers and their character by analyzing the things they carry during war. However, the story is not so much about the physical things the men of Alpha Company carry, but rather the emotional burdens that are not easily left behind. The image of carrying is conveyed through the weight of the physical items the soldiers "humped", and through the metaphysical burdens of: escaping reality, fear, grief, love, and the responsibility for one another.

The thirteen troops of the Alpha Company and their Lt. Jimmy Cross are portrayal of young American soldiers that bear the burden of the physical and metaphysical things they carry or "hump" during the Vietnam War. And"among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water" (O'Brien 2).

These items can make the soldier's pack weigh up to twenty pounds, along with other necessary items for protection. It was SOP, or standard operating procedure, for all soldiers to wear jungle boots weighing 2.1 pounds, a steel helmet weighing 5 pounds, and a nylon covered jacket weighing 6.7 pounds. In addition to the weight of their gear, they still had to lug around guns, extra ammunition, plus special supplies...

Cited: 'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York : Broadway Books, 1990.
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