The Things They Carried Summary
The Things They Carried, a novel that is written by Tim O’Brien, gives an account of the experiences the author and the other soldiers had during the Vietnam War. There are accounts of many war stories in this book. The author gives some horror experiences of the use of machines, how previously innocent people suddenly turned in to beasts, and how human bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
The Things They Carried: Plot Overview That Is Worth Your Attention
At the beginning of this book, the author writes about the various items that the soldiers carried in preparation for what they were going to encounter in the war. Most of the soldiers carry things that remind them of the past life they used to live. Due to the prevailing circumstances, there are certain items that the soldiers have to let go of. Jimmy Cross, for instance, had to do away with a pebble that he had received from his lover Martha. Though it was a sign of good luck and a symbol of the love they had as much as they were away from each other, he had to leave it because it felt like a distraction at some point. He had a habit of keeping this pebble in his mouth everywhere he went in the war. In the process of carrying this pebble, his friend was killed. At that point, he had to leave it behind because it made him forget the issues at hand. There were also the war items that the soldiers carried such as helmets made of steel, flak jackets, and the weapons. The personal items were things carried included the lucky charms, like what Jimmy Cross carried and bibles. Generally, their soldiers are not physically or emotionally prepared for the war front.
In the second section of this story, the author opines how, during the war, machines took precedence ahead of free will. The author intends to the story of when he killed a man with his machine. He says that it was not his intention to kill the man in question. However, since it was a war situation and he had a gun, it is the gun that killed the man and not his will. This is like a consolation to him since he regrets the death of the man. With that, the author feels better.
The next story is about how the Vietnam War changed the way people behaved. The author wants to show how the war situation had transformed people who were previously nice into beasts. It gives an account of a girl who had a dramatic change because of this Vietnam War. Things began at an outpost. This was a place where the soldiers injured in the war received treatment and allowed to recuperate. There is a man called Mark Fossie who came together with his girlfriend. They were from Cleveland. His girlfriend was in the region of 17 years old. The act of arriving with the girlfriend surprised many people. With time, the girl started learning many tasks that were related to the war. Because of the transformation that the girl went through because of the war, Mark Fossie no longer liked her. They had to part ways, and he never came to hear anything about her again. The girl who was once a blonde began killing people in the war. It is said that Mark Fossie regrets his decision to bring her to the war front.
The story “Spin,” gives an account of the loss of lives in the war. There are tragic losses in the war as bodies of dead people thrown all over. The dead lice from the dead people are carried by Mitchell Sanders and put inside an envelope which has an address ‘USO.’ Therefore the story is about the dead bodies that are rotting as a result of this war.
“On the Rainy River” is an account of how the author ended up in Vietnam. It happened after his graduation when he was recruited in the army. Though he thinks or running away to Canada, the decision to remain is because he does not want to disappoint his family. As a result, he is forced to bulge to the expectation of the society and go on with the duties bestowed on him as a soldier. Though it is a painful decision to make, he just had to make it.
The stories ‘enemies’ and ‘friends’ there is the illustration of the problems the soldiers go through because of the war. The book goes on to give a narration of the short life Curt Lemon lived as a solder. The author wants to tell the readers that the gory stories people hear about war are true. During his days as a soldier, there was one thing that Curt Lemon dreaded the most, the routine checks that the dentist did on the soldier’s teeth. During these checks, Curt faints. Due to his carelessness, his death comes from a rigged mortar. “Friends” also gives an account of the friendship between Lee and Dave. It ends tragically with the death of Strunk. The death comes as a relief to Jensen, who did not keep their pact. Kiowa, another soldier who was loved by the others due to her understanding nature also dies in the sewage field. The death saddens everyone in the camp. Azar is another soldier that likes making fun of other peoples’ misfortunes.
On the other hand, Henry Dobbins, the simple man, survives the war without signs of being hurt at all. He had a habit of wrapping his girlfriend’s stocking around his neck. People believed that was his good luck charm just like he did.
Though O’Brien at first lies to his daughter that he never killed anyone in the war, the guilt gnaws him, and he has to tell Kathleen the truth when she is an adult. This makes him feel better. O’Brien later goes back to Vietnam with her daughter Kathleen to remind himself of what happened during the war.