Essay on the Things They Carried

Essay on the important things They Carried

The Weight The soldiers who served during the Vietnam War brought more than their reasonable share of concrete and intangible items. The soldiers bore the weight of their packs, they carried around heavy devices, and they struggled to cope with the violence and death that surrounded them. But the heaviest item that they would bear would not be by option at all. Every passing day that the soldiers served in this war, more weight would be contributed to this item.

When the time came for the soldiers to return house, they put down their heavy packs, they returned the equipment that came from their government, and they waited on the “Liberty Bird” that would bring them securely home to their enjoyed ones. Nevertheless, the heaviest product, the weight of the intangible feeling, might never be put down, given back, or taken off. One important analysis of Tim O’brien’s short story “The Things They Carried” states, “The weight under which the males battle can not be lightened by the discarding of war equipment for it extends far beyond the physical pointers” (Korb, par. ). “The Things They Carried” welcomes the reader to have compassion with the soldiers’ failure to get rid of the intangible weight of feeling while shedding the concrete weight of the things they brought. The concrete kind of weight, or the weight that can be touched, is specified by Webster’s Dictionary in the noun kind as, “The standard or recognized quantity that a thing must weigh. In the opening paragraphs of “The important things They Carried,” O’Brien states, “The things they carried were largely by requirement … they carried pocket knives, heat tabs, wrist watches, dog tags, mosquito repellant…C-rations … cigarettes … packets of Kool-Aide … and two or three gallons of water. Together, these products weighed fifteen to twenty pounds” (320 ). O’Brien emphasizes the weight of each product to tell us implicitly what each soldier considers crucial: “Henry Dobbins brought additional provisions … Dave Jensen brought a toothbrush and foot powder … Ted Lavender carried tranquilizers” (321 ).

There were seventeen males in all in the Alpha Business, and O’Brien offers only direct descriptions of the tangible weight of the important things they carry. The weight of the tangible items is lacking emotion or belief. Jimmy Cross for instance, as platoon leader, “Brought maps, code books, field glasses, and a. 45 quality pistol that weighed 2. 9 pounds fully loaded” (322 ). Quickly, however, the author will begin to bring in feeling, or the verb form of weight, when he mentions, “He brought a strobe light … and the obligation for the lives of his men” (322 ).

The intangible, or untouchable kind of weight, is defined by Webster’s Dictionary in the verb type as, “To oppress with a concern as in weighted down with cares.” What O’Brien brings the reader to recognize is that the soldiers bring memories, they carry hopes, they bring worries, and these intangible items become the primary focus of the story. The weight of these intangible products is as real as any physical items, and unlike the physical objects, these products are not so easily cast away. When describing the problems of the intangible weight, the writing is more in tune with the feelings of the characters.

O’Brien states, “Lieutenant Jimmy Cross humped his love for Martha up the hills and through the swamps” (321 ). Lieutenant Cross’s love for Martha was intangible; he might not touch that love. This usage of the verb form of weight causes a more nostalgic tone and includes a great deal of psychological weight for the reader. This contrast between noun and verb types of weight provide the emphasis that is needed between the weight of the concrete and intangible items that the soldiers carried. The tangible loads that the men bring appear to be physical problems that serve to take their minds off the weightier issues, such as their own death.

The death of Ted Lavender, for example, is a weight that is heaviest for Jimmy Cross. One introduction states, “In order to deal with the death, the guys make jokes in order to stay sane. They attempt to stay hard, and in the end, the heaviest weight they carry is the emotional baggage of guys who may die … This is the heaviest weight because this is the one they can never put down” (Summary, par. 8). Ultimately, it becomes apparent that the important things they bring are not things at all. O’Brien states, “They carried grief, terror, love, yearning– these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity” (331 ).

It is in checking out passages like these that the reader begins to have compassion with the soldiers who seem like ourselves, genuine individuals, with genuine faces, who bring intangible emotion with a really real weight. In “The Things They Brought,” the reader is taken through 2 really various kinds of weight: the weight that is the basic quantity that something should weigh and the weight of the oppression of being burdened down with cares. This story informs us of products that were humped through the jungles of Vietnam, however the reader also feels the emotional luggage that lies heavy in the heart of every soldier who battled in the war.

What O’Brien wants the reader to recognize is that the concrete weight, the weight that a person can hold, touch, and feel, is nothing compared to the weight of the intangible emotion of a heart heavy burdened with the injustice of war. Works Pointed Out Korb, Rena. “The Important Things They Carried.” Brief Stories for Students. Detroit: Wind, 2002. Literature Resource Center. Web. 17 Nov. 2010. O’Brien, Tim. “The Important Things They Carried.” The River Reader. New York City: Pearson, 2010. 320- 334. Print. “Introduction: ‘The Things They Brought. ‘” Windstorm Online Encyclopedia. Detroit: Windstorm, 2010. Literature Resource Center. Web. 17 Nov. 2010.