Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

The Ball and Chains of War In the short story, “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien does an excellent job of using various literary elements to develop a theme of the emotional and physical burdens soldiers endure. The two main literary elements that develop this theme most clearly are his uses of character, and use of symbolism. In “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien narrates a story in first person about being drafted into the army and fighting in Vietnam. He tells us of a man who left a girl he loved. He tells us of all the physical items his squadron had to carry. He describes his everyday life as a soldier, and what seems tragic to us is just another thing that soldiers see every day and must carry on with. The themes being developed are the physical and emotional burdens that they, the soldiers, carry and how unbearable and apathetic war is. Tim O’Brien uses the character, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross to show most of the emotional burdens. He makes the choice to leave a girl he loves named Martha. Not only does he have to carry the supplies …show more content…
He explains all the different weapons that they carry and the weights of the weapons and ammunition, such as: The M-60 that weighs twenty-three pounds unloaded and required ten to fifteen pounds in ammunition or the M-16 that weighs eight-point-two pounds when fully loaded. They also have personal items that they carry such as food supplies, pictures, letters, water canteens, marijuana, and other items they feel are needed to make them feel more secure or remind them of home. Ted Lavender carries so much weight that when he is shot, he drops like a big sandbag. The weight of the physical items alone are enough to slow a man down and carry on and fight the war. But when you add the emotional ball and chains such as fear, love for missed ones, guilt, or stress, the weight becomes too much and you are sure to break down

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