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The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried a book written by Tim O’Brien, it entails collected works of related stories about a legion of American soldiers who were fighting in Vietnam. It is a work of fiction as the title page suggests “a work of fiction” although it is actually based on experiences built from the writer, O’Brien, indeed the book Things They Carried has been dedicated by O’Brien to those men that he fought with during the Vietnam War. O’Brien has written the book from the first person narrator, however, he has also used the third person especially when one of his legion mates is telling his story, and for example when they are expressing their emotions, in earnest or in humorous ways. Things They Carried has been written in the past tense, that is, its events are based on the past during the Vietnam War that occurred in the late 1960s and also twenty years after the war had come to an end as it talks about Tim O’Brien’s after life, years after the war had come to an end. He says, “…….and when I take a high leap into the dark and come down thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy's life with a story."(O’Brien Chapter 22, Pg. 246)

Things They Carried opens up its first chapter by talking about the things that his companions in the Alpha Company carried, he described each character talking of what each character loved or liked and what they carried. Some carried physical things such as food, letters, guns, books e.t.c. others carry intangible things such as fear, grief, desperation, anger e.t.c. for example, Jimmy Cross, one of the main characters and a lieutenant, used to carry letters from a lady that he loved though he knew she did not love him, she was called Martha, Jimmy Cross also carried photographs of Martha and the author says, “Whenever he looked at the photographs, he thought of new things he should have done.” (O’Brien chapter 1 Pg 5)

The first few paragraphs opens up to the readers mind about what the author is going to talk about in the book, “American soldiers in Vietnam during the war carry many things…..” he then goes ahead to talk about the American soldiers and what they carry. This creates the impression of what the setting of the book is. Things They Carried there are two settings, that of time and that of place. The setting of the book in accordance to time is the late 1960s and early 1980s when the Americans were fighting against the Vietnamese. The setting in accordance to place is Vietnam, although U.S locations that include Iowa and Massachusetts have formed the setting of the book though its minor compared to Vietnam. The author mentions Vietnam as the place where the Americans had gone to fight in. Judging from the first paragraphs of the book, the situation was that of war, war between the Americans and the Vietnamese. The story in the book actually revolves around the situation of the soldiers in the Alpha Company which is war and that is why the book starts with, “American soldiers in Vietnam during the Wars.” (O’Brien chapter 1)

The setting here is Vietnam and the situation is War. The setting in the book does make a suggestion on the characters including the protagonist who happens to be Tim O’Brien. The setting brings out the real character of men or soldiers, it brings out their self for example their feelings, emotions e.t.c. this is because it is in the setting where they are going to meet their fate, some die, some get injured, others have to live with the guiltiness of killing people and others in the fear of seeing their colleagues dead and fearing for their own lives. The setting depicts the character as a scared young man who feels the shame of fleeing from the war. He says, "Right then, with the shore so close, I understood that I would not do what I should do…" (O’Brien Chapter 4, Pg. 57)

The outcome of the book is shaped to an instance by the opening notes or paragraphs in the book. The outcome of the book is haunted memories and dealing with the past for example O’Brien has to deal with memories of the past. The book starts with talking about the things soldiers carry, this gives us a reflection of what kind of men the soldiers would have been or would have been leading were it not for the war. The outcome is that of grief as they have to live another life far from that they would have wanted to live. O’Brien says "I'm skimming across the surface of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins, and when I take a high leap into the dark and come down thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy's life with a story."