Short Story "The Things They Carried"

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The collection of short stories by Tim O'Brien titled "The Things They Carried" is a series of several stories that are linked together to describe the journey of American troops in the Vietnam War. It embodies the narration of the items of value and compassion that many of the soldiers had to forego in the system of the war because each got here with their unique issues. The most relevant finding although it is that the author considers the use of interrelated themes that ensured there is consistency in the narration. O'Brien explores the subject of companionship and friendship bonds for the American soldiers, and that fashioned the course of the mission through the use of weakness, lovingness, and respect to each other.

The theme of friendship is best perceived in the context of the soldiers being weak as their relations were directly influenced by an external force of fear. In The Things They Carried, the author narrates a story of cowardice making the soldiers even closer to each other. The author states in The Things They Carried that, "If you don't care for obscenity, you don't care for the truth; if you don't care for the truth, watch how you vote. Send guys to war, and they come home talking dirty" (O'Brien 77). The same effect is noted in the chapter How to Tell a True War Story where the author states that "Later in the week he would write to the guy's sister, who would not write back, but for now it was a question of pain." (O'Brien 9). It thus follows that in both, the characters were more focused on the fact that they were afraid of the outcome of the war that they ended up establishing even closer bonds together. The inference that one draws is that despite the fear, the soldiers felt a feeling of interconnectedness so that they came back closer to each other.

The other way of describing the theme of friendship would be by considering it in the context of how it relates to closeness and passion. The assessment is focused more on the genuineness of the relationships that the warriors established following their deployment to Vietnam. The chapter titled The Things They Carried embodies this concept perfectly when describing the role of memory in the past happenings. The author writes that "They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear. Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak" (O'Brien 39). It ensures that even after the cessation of war, memories were left to ensure that even the weak felt part of the greater family. A comparative assessment how this issue is depicted in the novel is by considering the chapter How to Tell a True War Story where the author mentions that "Rat Kiley had lost his best friend in the world. Later in the week, he would write to the guy's sister, who would not write back, but for now, it was a question of pain" (O'Brien 72). The statement underscores the fact that Rat had lost his best friend but because of the war and the friends he had, he moved on smoothly.

The final technique of interpreting the subject of friendship in the collection of stories is by factoring it as a consequence of respect to one another. The issue of giving honor to others proves to be relevant in the short stories as depicted in the story The Things They Carried when the author stated that "and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture" (O'Brien 77). The impression is that there was a problem being separated from each other as they had developed close relationships which were difficult to break over the time. The same effect is noted in the chapter titled How to Tell a True War Story where it is described that because of the love and respect that Rat had, he could not hold his feelings. The author states that "He says he loved the guy. He says the guy was his best friend in the world" (O'Brien). The impression is that the respect that was inherent depending on one's level was vital in the process of building the friendship.

In summary, it is worth underscoring that the stories How to Tell a True War Story and The Things They Carried had varied ways of covering the subject of friendship. The first involved the use of weakness and fear to create soldiers who were bonded to each other by the same principle. The other way is perceiving it in the perspective of respect because by honoring each other, the soldiers got even closer to each other. Lastly, the friendship theme is best perceived in the perspective genuine brotherly love that resulted from the traumatic experiences. Overall, the book by O'Brien explores the theme of love in an exhaustive way that is broken down into different tenets for better comprehension.

Work Cited

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1990. Print.

July 24, 2021

World Literature


Literary Genres Asia Books

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