The Vietnam War In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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The Vietnam War started in 1959, causing 58,119 american deaths (Hickman). In “The

Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, O’Brien describes how the rookie soldiers feel through

the hard times of the war. All the soldiers are frightened, but refuse to show their inner fear. It is

not until Ted Lavender, a new recruit to the group who actually shows his uneasiness, separates

to use the restroom and gets shot. The squad consists of Jimmy Cross, the 24 year old lieutenant

who is in charge, Mitchell Sanders, Kiowa, Henry Dobbins, Dave Jensen, Ted Lavender,

Norman Bowker, and Rat Kiley. Jimmy Cross plays an important role in the story where he

blames himself for Ted Lavender’s death. This tragedy causes him to be more alert of
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Both South and North Vietnam then come as one country called the

Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Rosenberg). The main point of the war was to prevent

communism. The United States interfered hoping to stop North Vietnam from taking over.

Although the United States set back North Vietnam they were unable to continue fighting and

Vietnam became a communist country.

Throughout the story “The Things They Carried” O’Brien demonstrates how soldiers

feel. O’Brien describes the soldiers inside fear they carry with their actions. An example of a

soldier showing phobia is when Ted Lavender leaves the group to use the restroom in a fatal

situation. One of the soldiers was to go inside a tunnel not knowing, “will your flashlight go

dead? Do rats carry rabies? If you screamed how far would the sound carry? Would your buddies

hear it? Would they have the courage to drag you out?” (O’Brien 431). Ted Lavender was scared

of death as O’Brien describes the soldiers, “They were afraid of dying but they were even more

afraid to show it” so, ironically, when he left to use the restroom he was shot. This occasion

mirrors real soldiers in combat. When Thomas Tucker, a Vietnam War veteran, was
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He also claimed, the “Vietnam War..was a life or death situation” (Tucker). Another

aspect that troubled the soldiers was that they were young. In the story, “The Things They

Carried” the lieutenant Jimmy Cross is only 24 years old. The position he holds as a lieutenant

indicates he is experienced. When the Vietnam War was taking place, young adults were being

drafted to Vietnam. This affected them because they are inexperienced with military procedures

and they had to leave their future behind. This aspect also reflects on how real soldiers felt when

they were drafted. In the interview with Thomas Tucker he is asked, “How old were you when

the event occured?” and he replied “20 years old” (Tucker). He was also asked “What situation

or stage of life were you when the event occurred?” and he responded, “Drinking and having

fun.” (Tucker). This concludes how soldiers were affected in the war. Most of the soldiers were

young and did not want to be at war.

The soldiers in the story “The Things They Carried” and in real life carry a lot of pressure

on them, physically and mentally. Soldiers had responsible mission in the Vietnam War. Some

mission which can lead to death. A soldier has to make important decisions to accomplish

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