Individuals, Places, Sensations: The Things They Carried

Some things in life enter into you. Individuals, places, sensations; you can become so close that you are one. However sometimes, these things can consume you; swallow you entire. In Tim O’Brien’s unique, The Things They Brought, numerous characters turn into one with the land of Vietnam. Vietnam takes in characters in various methods, but it constantly results in a character’s unity with the land. Unity is specified as “the state of being one; oneness”. Kiowa physically enters into the land in “Mentioning Guts”, when he sinks into the shit field, where Jimmy Cross purchased his soldiers to camp out.

In this case, Kiowa is literally swallowed by the land. Mary Anne becomes part of the land in a different way in “Sweetheart of the Tune Tra Bong”. She becomes emotionally connected to the land; it consumes her mind and her life. Vietnam threatens and starving. It will eat you alive. Throughout Norman Bowker’s flashback in “Mentioning Guts”, it’s found out that Jimmy Cross orders his platoon to camp out in “a huge swampy field next to the river … There was a ville nearby … fifty meters downstream … and immediately a lots old mama-sans went out and started shouting … bout how the field was bad news … not a good spot for GIs.

” (144, 145).

Cross decides to set up camp, regardless, and “the rain kept becoming worse … by midnight the field developed into soup.” (145 ). A soldier quickly recognizes that “it was a shit field … the town toilet.” (145 ). The Viet Cong troops assault the squad, and hell break out. “… he heard someone yelling … It was Kiowa … Kiowa’s wide open eyes settling into the residue … Kiowa was practically completely under … There were bubbles where Kiowa’s ought to have been … Kiowa was gone.” (148, 149).

Kiowa gets drawn into the shit, and physically enters into Vietnam. Tim O’Brien’s writing highlights Vietnam, the land itself, as a character. Vietnam does as it pleases; takes what it desires. It selfishly takes Kiowa away, so that both of them can be in unity up until completion of time. Nevertheless, unlike Kiowa, Mary Anne becomes mentally one with Vietnam in “Sweetie of the Tune Tra Bong”. Rat Kiley tells an impressive tale about an American war medic, Mark Fossie, who ships his girlfriend, Mary Anne, over to Vietnam to be with him. “. the person sends her the cash. Flies her over.

This charming blonde … simply hardly out of high school … Comes best out to the boonies.” (90 ). The troops stationed at the medical base take a taste to Mary Anne; she reminds them of the ladies back home. Time passes, and Mary Anne starts to progress. She’s curious about everything, specifically Vietnam; individuals, the land and the war. “She wondered about things … she liked to roam around … asking questions … She had a good quick mind … The war intrigued her. The land, too, and the secret.” (95, 96). Quickly, Mary Anne hangs around with the elite Green Berets stationed at the medical base.

She goes on ambush and patrols the wilderness with them. Mary Anne goes into Vietnam as an ignorant child, however the land changes her into a brutal she-warrior. Vietnam obsesses her; it fills her body and soul with the desire to be free within its strange realm. “… whatever around it, the entire war, the mountains … towns … the trails and trees … rivers and deep misted-over valleys … Sometimes I want to eat this location. Vietnam. I wish to swallow the entire nation … I just wish to consume it and have it there inside me … you can’t feel like that anywhere else.” (111 ).

Mary Anne loses herself to Vietnam. It consumes her, and she embraces it. She is bound to the land in perfect unity, till her passing away day. “She had actually crossed to the other side. She became part of the land … She was dangerous. She was prepared for the kill.” (116 ). Vietnam is ravenous and can never ever satisfy its vicious cravings. It eats the minds, bodies, and souls of its prey by consuming them alive. To be taken in by the land is to turn into one with it; participated complete unity, both ideal and scary. Vietnam is shrouded in secret and risk. If you’re not cautious, it might suck you in … and never let you go.

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