Shmoop breaks down key quotations from The Things They Carried.

In focusing so extensively on the power of fiction and on what a war story is or is notin The Things They Carried, O'Brien writes a multidimensional war story even as heexamines the process of writing one. His tales become stories within stories ormultilayered texts within texts within texts. The book's genius is a seeming inevitabilityof form that perfectly embodies its theme - the miracle of vision - the eternally proteanand volatile capacity of the imagination, which may invent that which it has the will andvision to conceive.(6) "In the end," the narrator states,

Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak.

They carried the soldier's greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing.

They might be physical, emotional or spiritual things.

He had love Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of war."
Rat Kiley and Kurt Lemon
They goofed around.

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Houghton, 1990.


Can bring all sorts of drama and headaches.
Helps us experience:
Pleasure
Achieve intimacy
Make commitments
By Ivy Astry
Archetypes in The Things They Carried
The Lover
Lieutenant Jimmy Cross was in love with a girl named Martha.
He thought about her often.
Was so head over hills in love with Martha he let her distract him and that causes him to lose a solider.

The weird thing about telling someone they're dying is that, it tends to focus their priorities.

> The Things They Carried Essay

O'Brien's novel, The Things They Carried, demonstrates his attempts to make death less real through psychotherapeutic tactics like telling stories about the dead as if they were living and conceiving the dead as items instead of people.

free essay on The Things They Carried

Some stories only indirectly reflect the process of writing; other selections includeobvious metafictional devices. In certain sections of the book, entire chapters aredevoted to discussing form and technique. A good example is "Notes," whichelaborates on "Speaking of Courage, " the story that precedes it. The seriousreader of the real Tim O' Brien's fiction recognizes "Speaking of Courage" ashaving first been published in the Summer 1976 issue of Massachusetts Review.(3) Thisearlier version of the story plays off chapter 14 of Going After Cacciato, "UponAlmost Winning the Silver Star," in which the protagonist, Paul Berlin, is thinkingabout how he might have won the Silver Star for bravery in Vietnam had he had the courageto rescue Frenchie Tucker, a character shot while searching a tunnel. However, in TheThings They Carried's version of "Speaking of Courage," the protagonist is notPaul Berlin, but Norman Bowker, who wishes he had had the courage to save Kiowa, a soldierwho dies in a field of excrement during a mortar attack.(4) Such shifts in character andevents tempt the reader into textual participation, leading him to question the ambiguousnature of reality. Who really did not win the Silver Star for bravery? Paul Berlin, NormanBowker, or Tim O'Brien? Who actually needed saving? Frenchie Tucker or Kiowa? Whichversion of the story, if either, is accurate? The inclusion of a metafictional chapterpresenting the background behind the tale provides no definite answers or resolutions. Welearn that Norman Bowker, who eventually commits suicide, asks the narrator to compose thestory and that the author has revised the tale for inclusion in The Things They Carriedbecause a postwar story is more appropriate for the later book than for Going AfterCacciato. However, O'Brien's admission that much of the story is still invention compelsthe reader to wonder about the truth. The narrator assures us that the truth is that"Norman did not experience a failure of nerve that night . . . or lose the SilverStar for valor" (182). Can even this version be believed? Was there really a NormanBowker, or is he, too, only fictional?

Therefore, I think that soldiers should not love when they are at war.

The Things They Carried (1990) ..

Even if I don't carry around physical "things" like the soldiers in the story, I carry around the thoughts and images of my past and of the opinions and judgments of my future.

In The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, trauma recurs in soldiers for different reasons.

“Story Truth” and “Happening Truth” in the Things They Carried

The Thing Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien depicts human beings just like us that don’t get a choice of what happens around us but how to survive with the things we hold dear that help us make it through.

The word “carried” is used repeatedly throughout The Things They Carried....

Happening Truth” in the Things They Carried ..

By defining a war story so broadly, O'Brien writes more stories, interspersing thedefinitions with examples from the war to illustrate them. What is particularlysignificant about the examples is that they are given in segments, a technique thatactively engages the readers in the process of textual creation. Characters who arementioned as having died early in the work are brought back to life through flashbacks inother parts of the text so that we can see who these characters are, what they are like,and how they die. For instance, in the story, "Spin," the narrator first refersto the death of Curt Lemon, a soldier blown apart by a booby trap, but the reader does notlearn the details of the tragedy until four stories later in "How to Tell a True WarStory." Even then, the reader must piece together the details of Curt' s deaththroughout that particular tale. The first reference to Lemon appears on the third page ofthe story when O'Brien matter-of-factly states, "The dead guy's name was CurtLemon" (77). Lemon's death is briefly mentioned a few paragraphs later, butadditional details surrounding the incident are not given at once but are revealedgradually throughout the story, in between digressive stories narrated by two othersoldiers, Rat Kiley and Mitchell Sanders. Each fragment about Curt's accident illustratesthe situation more graphically. Near the beginning of the tale, O'Brien describes thedeath somewhat poetically. Curt is "a handsome kid, really. Sharp grey eyes, lean andnarrow-waisted, and when he died it was almost beautiful, the way the sunlight came aroundhim and lifted him up and sucked him high into a tree full of moss and vines and whiteblossoms" (78). Lemon is not mentioned again for seven pages, at which time O'Brienillustrates the effect of Lemon's death upon the other soldiers by detailing how RatKiley, avenging Curt's death, mutilates and kills a baby water buffalo. When later in thestory Lemon's accident is narrated for the third time, the reader is finally told what wasbriefly alluded to in the earlier tale "Spin": how the soldiers had to peel CurtLemon's body parts from a tree.