The Things They Carried.
The Things They Carried is a testament about the Vietnam war. A testament about shots, friendship, horror and truth. A testament written by a soldier unable to deal with the mental burdens carried after coming back home from hell. The author, Tim O'Brien, writes from his own experience in the Vietnam war, even though thebook is actually a work of fiction. The book takes place in Vietnam during the war, but the thesis takes you far away from the remote country, far away in time, back home, when the war is over for the rest of the world, but not for the soldiers. That's what's this book comes to tell us, war is never over for a soldier, they carry it inside.
Although, that's the main thesis in the book, The ThingsThey Carried is written in an unusual way and a lot of sub-thesis are used to reach the main point, which is not even directly expressed in the book.
The book starts off with Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, and the rest of his platoon, and the things they carried, which were not necessarily physical, but also emotional burdens. We get fully detailed descriptions of their required equipment, like M16assault rifles, ammunition, medicines, sand bags, and pounds and pounds of other stuff that they would never use. We also see other things they took with them everywhere, even without orders to do so. Love letters, pictures, candy, marijuana and memories. But all the things they carried seem totally unnecessary when the platoon is struck by the death of Ted Lavender, one of the platoon members. Thisis the first time in the book where we can see the huge impact that death can have on a soldier, even when it's not noticeable. “Like cement, Kiowa whispered in the dark. I swear to God-boom, down. Not a word.“ (17). These words describing his friend's death show the profound shock Kiowa is left on after seeing how fast somebody can die, in contrast with the idea of death that we get in themovies with a huge impact that makes you jump on the air, or having enough time to say your last words after being shot. No, everything that happened was “boom, down”.
Although we don't get to know Ted Lavender in the novel, his death causes a big impact in O'Brien, and he mentions Lavender in several occasions during the story.
Ted Lavender's death is only the first one of the book, but it's farfrom being the last one. Curt Lemon dies after stepping on a landmine, and here, we get one of the most raw and heart wrenching chapters in the whole book. Curt Lemon was really good friends with a soldier named Rat Kiley. When Lemon is killed while playing a game with Kiley, Rat doesn't know how to deal with it. Two eighteen year old kids, the best of friends, are playing a game. One of them takesa step, and he's gone. It's that simple. Ted Lavender's death was absolutely impersonal, and the impact it had within his platoon was something really different to what we see here. After Lemon dies, we find Rat to not be the brave soldier he was supposed to be, but a kid, with a huge burden and feeling of guilt after his friend dies. Nothing can help a soldier get over the death of a comrade, buteach soldier finds different ways to accept it, either at war or when they come back. Rat Kiley was so destroyed inside that the only way he found to deal with was letting all his pain out.
“Later, higher in the mountain we came across a baby VC water buffalo. […] Rat shrugged. He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee. It went down hard, then got up again, and Rat took carefulaim and shot off an ear, then shot it in the hindquarters and in the little hump on its back. He shot it twice in the flanks. It wasn't to kill, it was to hurt. He put the rifle muzzle up against the mouth and shot the mouth away. Nobody said much. The whole platoon stood there, feeling all kinds of things, but there wasn't a great deal of pity for the baby water buffalo. Curt Lemon was dead. Rat...