The Things They Carried by a Veteran of the Vietnam War

The Important Things They Brought

Tim O’brien is a very gifted author, but he is likewise a veteran of the Vietnam War and combated with the United States because controversial war. Tim O’Brien was drafted into the Vietnam War in 1968. He acted as an infantryman, and acquired the rank of sergeant and won a Purple Heart after being wounded by shrapnel. He was discharged from the Vietnam War in 1970. I believe that O’Brien’s own images and previous experiences he came across in the Vietnam War gave him inspiration to compose the story “The important things They Brought.” O’Brien informs the story in 3rd person narrative kind about Lt.

Jimmy Cross and his platoon of young American men in the Vietnam War. In “The Things They Carried” we can see differences and similarities between the characters by the things they hold near to them. In this critical review I wish to review Tim O’Brien’s characterization. O’Brien’s expression towards each character is very distinct because not one of them is precisely alike. They all vary in age and ethnicity, and have various views on the Vietnam War. They bear the weight of their country on their backs, however they likewise have different feelings weighing on their hearts. The Things We Carried” takes in Vietnam throughout the Vietnam War. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and his squad are in the fields of Vietnam. His squad includes: Mitchell Sanders (Radio Telephone Operator), Rat Kiley (Medic), Henry Dobbins (Device Gunner), Kiowa, Norman Bowker, Ted Lavender, Dave Jensen, Lee Strunk, and a few other soldiers that O’Brien doesn’t name in the story. The squadron would follow Lieutenant Jimmy Cross across the hills, valleys, swamps, rivers, mountains, and everything else you could picture. Each soldier brought a minimum of twenty pounds of products, weapons, and rations on their backs.

They would stroll all the time, and all night. They didn’t even understand where they were going or where they would stop. The important things they carried were mainly identified by need. Tim O’Brien composes “Some of the necessities were P-38 can openers, swiss army knife, heat tabs, wristwatches, canine tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, sweet, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, C provisions and two or three canteens of water. By requirement, and because it was standard procedure they all brought steel helmets that weighed 5 pounds. On their feet they carried jungle boots, which weighed two pounds.

They likewise carried a steel-centered nylon covered flak coat which weighed 7 pounds” (O’Brien 266). Besides the 3 basic weapons- the M-60, M-16, and M-79, they brought whatever they thought proper. The males would in some cases dispose of ammo throughout the day along the path to lighten their weight. They did this due to the fact that the choppers would be coming the next morning to provide more ammo. They typically smoked dope together and chose fun at one another during the evening to kill time. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross wasn’t all there when leading the soldiers through the day and night.

A lady called Martha had his heart, and was living in New Jersey. She composed him letters and Jimmy fantasized all day about her. He was so in love with Martha that his mind was not even from another location thinking about his army and the war. The platoon marched through villages and in some cases they burned them down and often they didn’t. They didn’t understand who they were searching for in the towns, and why they burned some but not others. It was as if their legs were makers and they had been programmed to keep marching. The squadron was advised to perform numerous missions, consisting of occasional ambush and night missions.

Every soldier was different when it came to what they caused the night missions. Some would bring starlight scopes, others vitamins high in beta-carotene for better night vision. Tim O’Brien writes “In mid April, the platoon was instructed to damage the opponents fancy tunnel system. They were instructed to browse the tunnels prior to they damaged them by detonating an explosion device such as a mine. Lee Strunk was the fortunate one picked to search a particular tunnel” (O’Brien 271). While waiting on Lee to return out of the tunnel, Ted Lavender stepped far from the platoon to urinate and was shot in the head.

Kiowa saw the whole thing and said Ted simply dropped like cement and that was completion of it. That night Lieutenant Jimmy Cross was so upset about Ted Lavender that he dug a hole in the ground and wept all night. He disliked Martha now due to the fact that if he had not been so love struck, he would have ensured everybody took the best of safety preventative measures, and potentially might have prevented Ted Lavender’s death. He comprised his mind that he wasn’t going to consider her any longer and he finally accepted the truth that Martha didn’t enjoy him, and there was no chance of them ever fulfilling his dreams.

He was going to make the squad throw away their dope, and stop disposing of ammo. He may not resemble as much because of how stringent he was to end up being, however he reminded himself that his obligation was not to be loved but to lead. Tim O’Brien composes “Lieutenant Jimmy Cross brought letters from the girl named Martha. They were not like letters, however he was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack” (O’Brien 266). Jimmy also brings 2 pictures of Martha that she provided him. One of them is of her playing volleyball, and the second photo is her standing versus a wall.

Martha signed them with love, however Jimmy understood she didn’t mean what he was dreaming of. He pretended that they remained in love, and having romantic camping journeys in the white mountains. Jimmy loves her so much he is completely eliminated from the war mentally. Martha sends him a pebble she discovers on the beach as an all the best charm. Jimmy Cross carries the pebble under his tongue. Its presence sidetracks him from his responsibilities. Martha wrote that the pebble symbolized her sensations toward him, because she found it on the shore, right where things come together and also separate. He loves her even though he really does not understand what she means.

The expression and feelings Tim O’Brien gives Jimmy towards Martha are very unique. I think it is unbelievable how in the middle of all the threat and severity surrounding him in Vietnam, he is not totally there psychologically. A part of his heart and mind remains in New Jersey with Martha. He recognizes that he is possibly going to get eliminated by the lack of care he is utilizing, however he does not care. He doesn’t care up until Ted Lavender gets eliminated. So fast, within two seconds after the bullet struck Ted in the head, he was pushing the ground dead. This awakened Jimmy’s survival impulses, and his extremely unfortunate, he thought.

The things guys brought within. The important things men did or felt they needed to do” (O’Brien 279). Jimmy blames himself for Ted Lavenders death, and eliminates his fantasies about Martha. Jimmy realizes truth that Martha does not love him and never will. Tim O’Brien composes, “Ted Lavender was extremely terrified while he was in Vietnam, he carried tranquilizers and 6 or 7 ounces of premium dope till he was shot in the head outside the town of Than Khe in mid-April” (O’Brien 266). Ted Lavender is revealed through O’Brien as a boy who is in over his head with this war.

Ted is frightened and anxious all the time, and his only break from this concern is to take tranquilizers or smoke dope. I believe O’Brien is not just explaining Lavender however most of the young men in the Vietnam War. A lot of the soldiers were boys in their teenagers and early twenties with the rest of their lives ahead of them. They were not emotionally prepared for what was going on around them. It was a pity that so many boys had to sustain this kind of scenario. Tim O’Brien also writes “Kiowa, a devout Baptist, brought an Illustrated New Testament that had actually been presented to him by his daddy.

As a hedge against bad times, however, Kiowa also brought his grandmother’s wonder about of the white guy, his grandfather’s old hunting hatchet” (O’Brien 267). Kiowa is an American Indian and a devout Baptist. The other soldiers tease him about these things often, but Kiowa does not react. Through O’Brien’s expressions about Kiowa, I believe he is kind to everybody and attempts to have suitable responses to the war. Kiowa wants to feel bad about Ted Lavender’s death given that he saw it. When Jimmy is sobbing in his trench the night Ted was killed, Kiowa attempts to sob himself.

Kiowa can not weep and all he can consider is that he lives. He is not dead, and how great it feels to be alive. I feel Kiowa is carrying a heavy concern on his heart being away from his household, and safeguarding a nation that his relatives do not trust. He remains true to his family by reading his bible and taking care of his bros in war. All the characters in “The important things They Carried” brought different things that indicated the world to them. All of the soldiers were horrified of death and were a lot more terrified to show it. They joked after each enemy bombing that they almost peed their pants and such.

They really nearly did each enemy encounter, and they all knew it. They would turn into a young man and worry for their life, and ask god to please take them far from this awful place, however when the firing stop they would stand up and develop into soldiers again. All of these young men carried the emotional luggage of males who may pass away. They all brought thoughts of sorrow, fear, love, and yearning. They carried outrageous memories. They carried the common secret of cowardness. These young soldiers eliminated, and they died, all due to the fact that they were embarrassed not to.

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