What Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger

Topics: Vietnam War, Army, Vietnam Pages: 7 (3120 words) Published: May 1, 2013
Vietnam, a war that ended in 1975 was a war about the prolonged struggles between the nationalists forces that were trying to attempt the unification of Vietnam as a country under a government of communism and the United States attempting to delay or stop the spread of communism. To the Americans, this war seemed pointless and the Americans saw that there was no way of winning so the government lost the support for this uncalled war. In "The Things They Carried," Tim O'Brien wrote a novella about different situations that happened to him and to the other soldiers in his platoon during this un-popular. It recalls what individual soldiers carried with them. To a point, all of the soldiers carried the same items. There were the necessities that were required. Most were pointless, or at least seemed pointless, but were standard issued to carry. Each soldier carried pocketknives, heat tabs, dog tags, sewing kits, C rations, canteens, and much more.... Most of those items were needed in some way while they were out on the battlefield. “What they carried was partly a function of rank, partly of field specialty” (O’Brien 5). What they carried also varied by the missions they were sent on. Whether their journey took them through the mountains or in the most hazardous places they carried what they absolutely needed. They would carry USO stationary with pencils and pens to chewing tobacco to spools of wire. What ever the others could no longer carry them selves; the other soldiers would carry. They would carry infections, they carried the land, they carried the sky and most importantly they would carry their own lives. Emotional aspects weighed down on them, knowing that in a second, they could be dead. They would carry shameful memories and their reputations. As soldiers, they would carry everything they could, no matter what is was; they carried it everywhere they went while on that battlefield in Vietnam. From the points of the main characters the book was dedicated to... the things they would carry included both physical and emotional aspects of their time in Vietnam. "They carried all they could bear, and then some including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried" (O'Brien 7).

As First Lieutenant, Jimmy Cross carried so many personal and emotional aspects that influenced his judgment and leadership. Cross would carry letters from the girl he loved in New Jersey. But that girl, Martha, did not love him back so he humped her letters and her pictures all over the battlefield. The Lieutenant also humped a good luck pebble that Martha sent him. He humped those items from her until he burned the letters and pictures and got rid of the pebble. He carried emotional matters too. Cross carried the hate that he had for Martha but with that hate he carried the love that he still had for her. He carried the disappointment of her not loving him back like he loved her. The guilt of Ted Lavenders' death weighed down on him then and many years after the war, he still blames himself for his death. He bore the responsibility for the lives of his men. He was their leader so he was in charge, and in charge meant keeping his men safe and for them to do their duty correctly, no highway options. Jimmy Cross would carry the pressure of keeping his platoon safe and the pressure of performing tasks the right way every day they were at war and out on the battlefield. He learned as the days wore on that he had to carry more and more responsibilities for himself but more importantly for his soldiers.

Kiowa was a soldier in Lieutenant Cross' platoon who died in a shit field (a field next to the 'Song Tra Bong' river that people used as a restroom). Kiowa would carry a few personal items with him as he journeyed his way through the war in Vietnam. He carried his grandmothers distrust of the white man and his grandfathers old hunting hatchet. No matter where they traveled, Kiowa was always carrying a New Testament bible that was given...
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