Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried: Summary & Analysis

The first part of the quote matches with the first story, The Things They Carried. The story told about the items that each soldier took with them to the war. The quote says that the past has a strong grip on the present. The items that the soldiers have with them remind them of their past. Sometimes the soldiers have to let go of something they have because of certain conditions. For example Jimmy Cross had a good luck from his girlfriend Martha; it was a pebble that was from the Jersey shoreline. She sent it to him because it reminded her of how they are “together but separate”. Jimmy took this everywhere during the war and kept it in his mouth. When one of his friends got killed during action he got rid of the pebble because he thought it was a distraction.

The second part of the quote, which says, “Where machines seemed sometimes to have more will power than me” Relates to the story “The Man I Killed”. In this story the author talks about the man he killed. He starts out by describing the dead person then he starts to regret it. The quote states than in war a machine, which could be a gun, sometimes has more power than a person does. The author noticed this after he killed the enemy soldier; he noticed that it was the gun that killed the person and not him. This made him feel better after a while, but never forgot about the person he killed.

The war story named “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” relates to the third part of the quote, which says “where nice boys (girls) were attracted to them”. The story was about a girl that was changed dramatically by the Vietnam War. It started in an outpost were injured soldiers were brought so that they can be treated. A person named Mark Fossie brought his girlfriend from Cleveland Heights Senior High; she was about 17 years old. All of the other people were amazed at this. As time went on the girl began to learn to do many war related task. Soon she has changed so much that her boyfriend no longer liked her so they left each other and Mark Fossie never heard of her again. The quote means boys and girls are supposed to like each other, but not in war. War changes people a lot, for example Mark Fossie’s girl friend was a beautiful blond and he never imaged her killing people and liking it, but war turned her into that type of person and now he regrets bringing her to Vietnam.

The story that I found very interesting was “Spin” and it relates to the fourth part of the quote, “where bodies ruptured and burned and stand”. In this story Mitchell Sanders was prying off body lice from a dead person and putting it in an envelope addressed to the USO. This part of the quotes talks about dead and rotting bodies, this story spin is also based on that idea.

The last portion of the quote which says “where the evil thing trying to kill you could look disconnecting human and where except in your imagination it was impossible to be heroic” relates perfectly to the story where the author was telling about his attempted escape from the war. The name of this story is “On the Rainy River” the title is well chosen too because it was on the river where the author made the decision to stay because he was a coward. He calls himself a coward for going to war which sounds very weird. The quote means it is very hard to be brave during a war like Vietnam. Since the author turned in to a coward right when he was on the edge of the border, this quote relates well to this story.

As you have read war is a very different type of world everything is turned around and it confuses people. The author of the book The Things They Carried and the writer of the quote “It has been said of war that it is a world where the past has a strong grip on the present, where machines seemed sometimes to have more will power than me, where nice boys (girls) were attracted to them, where bodies ruptured and burned and stand, where the evil thing trying to kill you could look disconnecting human and where except in your imagination it was impossible to be heroic.”

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