The Things They Carried: Analysis Essay Example
‘The Things they Carried’ by Tim O’Brien kindled great interest in me from the time I started reading it. The pages 1 to 85 of the book describes the different events that took place during the author’s experiences in Vietnam which made me relate to it because it was so touching and personal. O’Brien’s style of writing is simple yet unique and was capable of drawing my attention not only to his fellow soldiers belonging to the Alpha Company they worked for, by also by highlighting the various things they carried with them on their various missions. This part of the story made me reflect on my own life because I too cannot give up some of the things that I hold close to my heart. Some of the intangible things they carried were fear, awe, guilt, anger, frustration and of course love. However, there were other physical articles they carried which catered to their tangible needs. Some of these articles included photographs and letters of loved ones, morphine, matches, M&M’s candy, medicine, tools, tape, pencils, pins, tobacco, and even M- 16 rifles. The detail with which the author explains about the different characters and situations made me feel as though I was part of the team and had a role to play in it too.
In laying out the bare facts of what war entails, the story made me sit back and reflect on the depth of sacrifice shouldered by each and every soldier around the world. Especially when I think of Jimmy Cross, a leader of these men who is only 24 years and is in love with Martha, I really empathized with him because I understood how he must have felt, being a youth and not being allowed to act according to his own will. According to me, the message was loud and clear that there is nothing good about war and I felt repelled at the thought that though we have become more civilized, yet we are not free from the shackles of war. This message is repeated time and again in the story because it depicts the men’s hatred of war and they wished and longed that it would end. This part of the story made me feel sad to think that though all of them wished the war would end soon because right before their eyes many of their friends are killed, yet there was nothing much they could do to help themselves.
In the second half of Tim O’Brien’s story of ‘The Things they Carried’ he describes the war, the lives of his men and all the interesting experiences they had. At this point, I began to compare the life and experiences of these soldiers to my own life and it really stuck me to think that life could be so different for the same species of human beings. On one hand, we have people who lead peaceful and easy lifestyles, but on the other hand we have people who struggle to keep their dignity and respect afloat. O’Brien sheds light on the soldiers who left them one by one, the fun they had during their breaks, the jokes they cracked, but most of all he highlights the soldier’s feelings and emotions of what they felt and experienced in the days they were together. I was really touched by the way the soldiers tried to keep up their spirits by trying their best to help each other. At this juncture, I reflected on how we crib and complain for small things and if something small happens we blow it out of proportion for no reason. Comparing the tough lives led by the soldiers, small blocks in my life began to be so trivial.
There is nothing nice or dignified about war and this message is loud and clear in the passages that follow. It made me realize that though soldiers are human beings like us, yet, they have to put aside every bit of feeling and emotion to live up to something called war. Soldiers become so rough and tough that they lose their sensibilities, feelings and emotions because they are people who face death ever so often and even if they didn’t want to, they are forced to. This part of the story made me feel quite helpless and it made me think that if war could change humans to such an extent, then why should there be war in the first place?
In trying to smoothen the ruffles of war, the author merges fantasy with reality while contemplating on the boy whom he had killed and feels great remorse for his actions. He empathizes with the unnaturalness of the war against the nature around him. The pain and grief of war have taken its toll on all of them and all they need is to find their freedom in a place where there is no more war but peace and tranquility forever. The author has told the tales of war as it is and being one among them has given a very personal and humane touch that clutches the heart of anyone who reads these stories. I was indeed touched by O’Brien’s portrayal of war because he lent a very personal touch by exposing the ravages of war and at the same time bringing out the feelings and emotions of all those soldiers who went to war with him. I did not feel I was reading a story about war, but it was like I was reading someone’s very personal diary.
O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried, Broadway, (1998). ISBN: 978-0767902892