The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

July 4, 2010
By jacpan BRONZE, Ridgewood, New Jersey
jacpan BRONZE, Ridgewood, New Jersey
1 article 5 photos 4 comments

War is a time when men are taught many lessons through the dilemmas and problems that arise. In The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, the men learned to best all the hard times that had to be faced in order to become stronger in character. Through the figurative things that they carried, the author shows these hardships because of the burden they had to carry including responsibility, memory, and shame.
During wartime, men learn to prevail over many difficulties including how to be responsible in order to stay alive. “[Jimmy Cross] carried a strobe light and the responsibility for the lives of his men” (O’Brien 5). Especially in this case, Cross had to watch out for all his men as part of his duty- a job not as easy as it sounds. Even so, he learned to care this weight to help his men survive.
Another difficulty that the men had to overcome included remembering past moments yet still keeping a strong image so that they wouldn’t seem weak. “They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear” (O’Brien 14). The men had to understand that although they might miss their old life and all the memories that came with it, in order to be more ready and prepared for war they would have to push them aside. By having to carry that extra weight, the men suffered through more but in the end it made them stronger.
Shame was another load that they men had to carry; even though they had to carry it, the men chose not to show it because they did not want to seem as weak. “They would touch their bodies, feeling shame, then quickly hiding it” (O’Brien 19). During wartime, the men considered it cowardly to show any embarrassment they might have felt so they hid it to preserve their honor.
The load of these things as portrayed by the author show the adversities of the men. By learning and still being able to carry the weight of responsibility, memory, and shame, the men are able to morally become stronger and more ready for the other hardships of war.

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