The Things They Carried Study Guide

The Things They Carried Study Guide

Original title:
The Things They Carried
Published December 29th 1998 by Broadway (first published 1990)
ISBN 0767902890 (ISBN13: 9780767902892)

Most of the war stories that have acquired wide attention among the public are about World War I or World War II. Tim O’Brien wrote a popular book about Vietnam War that was published in 1990 and provoked a lively debate, both among political and historical circles. 

“The Things They Carried” is a collection of stories about a writer who is also a veteran. During the plot, he plunges into his experiences during a Vietnam War. He comes to realize the meaning of these experiences through his own reflections. The reader is exposed to painful revelations, such as the author’s intent to flee from the duty and not actually believing into the war he was fighting. 

O’Brien describes people he met and served with. With some of them, he even met up after the war in a social setting remembering those who didn’t live to see the light of a peaceful day. Among them Jimmy Cross whom the author describes as unskilled and inexperienced, yet who held a top position at a military company. 

The name of a collection draws from a literary style the writer employs to describe other characters. He shows a person’s personality by portraying the things they carry: from physical items to emotions and feelings. It’s hard to distinguish the truth in the text and the author himself spends a long time debating that the truth is what touches our soul and not always with facts and proof.

The novel is tightly interlinked with other O’Brien’s works. It is full of characters that share some of the traits of the real people and introduces the author himself as a central actor in the story. At the same time, it is also a work of fiction with its imaginary Alpha Company and a protagonist with the same name. It is a memoir about war, it is an autobiography, it is a fiction and a non-fiction at the same time. Most importantly, it’s worth reading at least once in a lifetime. 

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The Things They Carried Chapter Analysis

The Things They Carried: Chapter 1 Significant Quote: “In the accompanying letter, Martha wrote that she had found the pebble on the Jersey shoreline, precisely where the land touched the water at high tide, where things came together but also separated. ” (8) speaker: Tim O’Brien Audience: The...

The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien is a very gifted author, but he is also a veteran of the Vietnam War and fought with the United States in that controversial war. Tim O’Brien was drafted into the Vietnam War in 1968. He served as an infantryman, and obtained the rank of sergeant and won a Purple Heart after being...

The Things They Carried

“War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead. ” (80) This...

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Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a very uniquely written book. This book is comprised of countless stories that, though are out of order, intertwine and capture the reader’s attention through the end of the novel. This book, which is more a collection of short stories rather than one story...

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