The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien (Essay Sample)
-Read the article and answer the following 16 questions. No other sources needed!
- Questions 1-9 is from article “The Things They Carried”, Question 10-16 is from article “The Favorite”.
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The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
1 How would you categorize and/or describe the weight of the “things” mentioned in the title?
The weight of the “things” the men carry is heavy and physically as well as emotionally taxing. First of all, the men had to carry what they needed including food and basic amenities. They had to carry their ammunition and when added together, these things were heavy. For example, Henry Dobbins “carried the M-60, which weighed twenty-three pounds unloaded, but which was almost always loaded.” Dobbins also carried ammunition which is indicated to be around 10 to 15 pounds. So, in addition to the other things he was expected to carry, Dobbins moved around with a heavy load.
However, the “things” the men carried were also emotionally taxing. Jimmy Cross, for example, carried the “responsibility for the lives of his men.” So, this means that if anyone died, he was held responsible. Somehow, he was expected to keep everyone alive but he fails which further increases his emotional burden.
2 O’Brien uses lists as a rhetorical device. Why does he use these? How do these lists reflect the tone/theme of the story?
Throughout the story, the reader is slowly but in greater detail given a small story of each character. The use of lists is appropriate as it fits perfectly with the theme of burdens or baggage that the characters deal with. From the lists, one can tell the kind of person a character is. For example, Kiowa carried a bible which showcased to the reader that he was religious. Lavender, on the other hand, carried a lot of ammunition and O’Brien includes his “unweighed fear” to showcase that he carried a lot more baggage than was visible.
3 What do the objects carried reveal about the characters who carry them?
The objects carried reveal different things. They reveal the personalities of the characters as well as their inmost fears. For Lavender, death was his inmost fear and thus the reason why he carried a lot of ammunition. Kiowa, on the other hand, was religious because of the Bible he always carried around. Jimmy Cross, sought to escape the war through the pictures and letters he received from Martha. Rat Kiley carried comics and Lavender also carried dope while Dobbins wore his girlfriend’s stockings around his neck. These were escape routes for each character because, at the time, war and death were the only things around them.
4 How do the things the soldiers carry unite them?
The things the soldiers carry unite them in the fact that each person has their share of baggage.
5 How does Ted Lavender’s death affect his fellow soldiers?
The death of Lavender forces the men to confront the fears. All the men are afraid of death but few could show it. O’Brien writes in one of his captions, “they were afraid of dying they were even more afraid to show it.” However, after Lavender’s death, they started to confront this fear and to talk about death.
6 What does Martha represent
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