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The Things They Carried: Descriptive Essay


Essay Introduction

The book d “The Things They Carried” was ed by Tim O’Brien and documents several stories that describe the experiences of the author and other soldiers who has participated in the Vietnam War. Although the stories in the book are given different titles, they are interrelated and serve as components of the book’s plot. One of the outstanding stories documented is concerning Norman Bowker, which will be discussed in this paper. Moreover, the paper will consider the types of letters carried by the soldiers, highlighting their content and relevance.

Norman Bowker was a soldier in the Vietnam War who later hanged himself after he had lacked the interest in living. His participation in the Vietnam War presented him with devastating memories of the cruelty he observed during the war. Such memories made it difficult for him to get over the guilt that had emanated from the war. Moreover, the fact that he had shouldered the responsibility of causing Kiowa’s death served to depress him. After years of struggling with the guilt, he preferred to commit suicide so that he could completely resolve the issue. Norman Bowker had been a courageous person a factor supported by his participation in the war. O’Brien documents how Bowker was responsible for the Kiowa’s death a central factor that affected him. As the author depicts, Bowker had been a courageous person because the war was too cruel for weaklings. He supports this by mentioning Bowker in his other story about courage. Although he was brave, he allowed himself to become emotionally disturbed and later allowed guilt to take toll over his life (O’Brien 131).

Description of the Letters in “The Things They Carried”

The use of letters in O’Brien’s text is not a strange idea. It was something that many soldiers valued. For example, Jimmy Cross carried along with him letters from Martha a girl he had dated before, but who had not reciprocated his love. He spends time rereading the letters so that he could bring back the memories of his love for Martha. The content of the letters concerned love as the two had been dating. The effect of the letters on Jimmy Cross reveals that they had romantic content (140).

An additional letter appearing in O’Brien’s text is the one authored by Bowker to O’Brien himself. Bowker authored the long letter revealing his true feelings and experiences during the period after the Vietnam War. He made it evident to O’Brien that he needed his side of the story published. It was from this letter that O’Brien developed much more content concerning Bowker’s experience during the war. The final letter was that authored by Rat Kilney to Lemon’s sister. He made efforts of delivering his message eloquently in the letter. He sought to inform Lemon’s sister of her brother’s death. All the three letters described served to reveal additional content to the readers. Moreover, they introduced variations in O’Brien’s text (150).

Essay Conclusion

Evidently, O’Brien’s text titled the things they carried reveals the experiences of soldiers who participated in the Vietnam War. Because of the harsh conditions and cruelty evident in that war, the soldiers had different experiences to relate. O’Brien focuses on developing stories that narrated the experience of these soldiers. For example, he related the story concerning Norman Bowker highlighting the reasons behind his suicide. In addition, O’Brien reveals that the letters were some of the things that the soldiers carried. The letters described had varied content.

Work Cited
O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. Print.

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