Essay about The Things They Carried

772 Words Jan 1st, 2014 4 Pages
Emotional and Physical Burdens

In The Things They Carried the characters face many physical and emotional stresses which test their ability to remain strong individuals. O’Brien gives clear example to the emotional burdens the characters are faced with throughout their durations in the war as well as at home. Each story reflects a characters emotional and physical well being. Memories cascade their ways onto the shoulders of the character’s who seem to find emotional support by ignoring or just plain mocking the unpleasant. Subsequently, a few of the stories they tell seem to be in disarray but give the illusion of actuality. The responsibilities to their communities as well as their memories weigh the characters down causing
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The insanity of Rat Kiley exists only from preexisting fears and anxiety he’s had during the war. The buildup of frustration and lack of sleep along with the emotional burdens of caring for his men and seeing so many men fall apart and die gives him the motivation he needed to do whatever it takes to get away from the mouth of evil. Kiley’s choice to shoot himself in the foot came gradually as he became a nervous wreck inquiring about giant bugs. “He said he could hear the bastards homing in on him. Swarms of mutant bugs, billions of them, they had him bracketed.” (O’Brien 221). Finally the situations he had seen along with the amount of bodies he had to recover and save got to him. He got so desperate as to blow his own toe off, which symbolizes him putting himself out of his own misery.
Jimmy Cross is by far the most interesting character throughout the short stories. He is considered the “Christ” figure in the novel and has one of the biggest responsibilities. Not only is he responsible for the well being of his men, he also has to make sure that the artillery gets where it is supposed to. Jimmy Cross is also burdened by the memories of Martha and the institution he once attended. Cross’s infatuation with Martha burdens him at night while he reads her letters and looks at her picture. Throughout all of the burdens Jimmy Cross has and with all of the trials he faces with taking care of his men, Jimmy seems to keep everything together proving…

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