The Things They Carry By Tim O Brien Summary

Good Essays
Tim O’Brien’s story, “The Things They Carry” published in 1990, centers on a group of soldiers in the Vietnam War. The soldiers are under the responsibility of Lieutenant Jimmy Cross. With Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, he carries his love for Martha and it distracts him from his duty. In the end, he tries to forget Martha because he thinks it is his fault the Ted Lavender dies. Each soldier carries something different from each other and the story revels to as to why. Respectively, each soldier carries assets that are material and mental. By using historical context, narration, and mental health, O’Brien transports the readers to the mind of soldiers.
O’Brien portrays the story from a monumental historical point, the Vietnam War, to show how mentally
…show more content…
There are examples after examples in the story that can relate to mental health. In the story, the soldiers are frightened of the war and there are very few ways to escape it besides death, severe injury, or pretending to have gone insane. Most soldiers refused to use the excuse to leave the front lines so that the soldiers would not be seen as cowards. Another way soldiers hid what major impact the war left was to joke and tell stories of death to make it seem as if the soldiers are unaffected. In the study of “'I Want to Come Home': Vietnam-Era Veterans' Presenting for Mental Health Care, Roughly 40 Years After Vietnam,” it discusses the psychological trauma experienced by the soldiers. It first had the veterans retell the war from that perspective and the … veterans’ descriptions of war regularly featured its unexpected chaos, terror, and horror, which were the backdrop of the entire experience… Upon returning to the USA, veterans described being unwelcomed and unappreciated, aside from a select few people…(Psychiatric Quarterly p229-239). This article goes through the veterans experience, trauma, and develops on how the Vietnam War was a danger to the soldier's mental health. Then develops into the veterans personal life years after the war. The veterans from the war are today still struggling to keep a job, save a relationship, isolated themselves, and a mixture of emotions like anxiety, depression, and anger. Some veterans even attempt suicide. This correlates with the story by O’Brien because on page 1093 he describes what the soldiers are feeling and the mental toll the war. He describes the soldiers carrying their reputations and being afraid of being call cowards. The soldiers hoped to die in combat so that the hint of dishonor would label on

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Unfortunately, Ted Lavender, a soldier part of the platoon, was killed in action while trying to take a piss in the bush. This brought grief to Lt. Cross as in him blaming himself for not being cautious and caring about his platoon. He began to realize the state that he is in, the state that he’s in the reality of wartime and is holding the lives of his squad members. He decided that “there was no great mystery” and burns all the things that reminded him of Martha. (Page 23) What this quote means is that it was clear to him that he had to blame himself for the cause of Ted Lavender’s death.…

    • 935 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The men of the Vietnam war were already traumatized, at as young as eighteen, that they couldn’t handle any extra fear, embarrassment, or shame. This is the cause of many suicides or self-harming committed by soldiers who were previously in the war. This teaches the reader to be careful to what one exposes themselves to and to also be cautious to how one treats others because anyone could be experiencing large amount of emotional pain of shame, guilt, and embarrassment. Shame is a strong motivator that can affect one’s life in an instant. Tim O’Brien in, The Things They Carried, tells the many…

    • 1404 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Furthermore, Norman can’t forgive himself for the death of his friend Kiowa, because he blames himself for not saving him. Many Veterans felt like this after coming back from the war, some didn’t even want to get help for PTSD, because they felt it was disrespectful trying to get help while their friend is…

    • 1722 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Emotional Burdens in the Vietnam War and Tim O’Brien Vietnam soldiers during the war carried emotional burdens because of seeing their mates being killed, the constant fear of death and the traumatic events they were involved. The effects persevere in their minds during and after the war causing a lost in personality and PTSD. The author Tim O’Brien dedicated his life writing about the Vietnam War. The author’s personal experiences and the guilt of forming part of a war he opposed, were part of his inspiration for writing about the Vietnam War. Soldiers in the Vietnam War carried as an emotional burden the loss of their mates and some that saw the traumatic events were marked for life, including those who were directly involved.…

    • 1372 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Lehrer tells this story for the reader to glimpse into the mind of a soldier. He talks about how “the violence without and the silence within were terrifying” and “he [did not] know what other men did to contain their fear”(McDougall). Lehrer allows the reader to see how his mindset, along with others, during the war was scared and uneasy, ultimately leading to the disturbance he still feels at home. His experience in Vietnam forever changed his life and still brings fear to his mind, just like the characters in The Things They…

    • 1144 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    As we see in the novel, from Billy’s family life to his experiences in the war, he is isolated and rejected by many of those around him. Therefore, through the element of science fiction in the novel, Vonnegut offers up an insight into the difficulties faced with those suffering from mental health issues with Billy’s creation of Tralfamadore, as noted, ‘Billy's trauma over the war is so severe that he must leave Earth (either in his mind or for real) to find comfort after all the violence he has seen’ (Shmoop Editorial Team,…

    • 2049 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The author may have experienced a similar feeling of guilt allowing him to expand of the feelings into another character. In “ambush” O’Brien says, “The grenade was to make him go away-just evaporate-and I leaned back and felt my mind go empty”, he acted off of impulse because that was what he was trained to do, but right as he did, he regretted it. After war this guilt does not simply go away, these men still play the incidents over and over in their minds: “Along with symptoms of PTSD, veterans are also often overwhelmed with guilt due to their actions in combat” (Barbour 17). O’Brien will never accept his guilt, but storytelling may help ease his…

    • 1696 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Many of the Vietnam War veterans dealt with depression due to the conflicting experiences of war and the toll death had on the soldiers internally. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Vietnam war veterans that experiences combat was also common because they were taught to internalize their emotions. “The Things They Carried” shows people the burden of loss our soldiers deal with when they come home. The American Journal of Psychiatry conducted a study on sixty-one Vietnam War veterans when they arrived home from war. The results were…

    • 973 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    During the Vietnam War, most men participate in the war and leave their girlfriend or wife behind to be exposed to danger. At a time like war, women want their love one to be close by in order to protect them from danger and supporting each other. Even though most women never show that they need men to protect them, but on the inside, they feel unsafe and wants their love one to protect them. However, men can 't protect their love one, because men were forced to the war and die on the battlefield. Kien as a psychopomp learns Hoa last word of…

    • 1388 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Kiowa, a fellow soldier, tried to convince O’Brien that this was necessary and that if he let him go, the other soldiers would have done the same. Tim O’Brien is haunted by guilt throughout the book, because he is convinced that if he let the boy go, he would’ve lived a better life. This shows how “guilt” affected the soldiers. It breaks the soldiers’…

    • 809 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays