The Things They Carried Analysis of Tim Obrien’s short story
!.?. !? Christian Mueller Professor Marek ENC1102 Sec 81 25 September 2013 Burdens of War Tim Obrien’s “The Things They Carried” To understand literature, especially the more abstract and elaborate things, you need to comprehend beyond the actual text. To actually see the point an author is meaning you must have the ability to check out the hidden messages masked within the obvious ones. Not only should you take the authors background into factor to consider however likewise the time period that the piece happens in.
You must take into account the culture and context of a story, just then can you truly understand the symbols, allusions, and metaphors meant to provide insight. In Tim Obrien’s “The Things They Brought” he utilizes metafiction and extensive lists of symbolic items each man reaches exemplify the soldiers’ individuality and their individual burdens, physical and psychological, stemming from his own personal encounters during the war. Tim Obrien was hardly out of college when he received his draft letter.
He was currently adversely gotten rid of toward the war, and now he was drawn into it regardless of his views. This event significantly affected his works and potentially even awakened his literary desire. Consequently all of his works were Vietnam War oriented, and deeply showed his experiences and viewpoints of the war. No story other than “The Important Things They Brought” better records Obrien’s mixed sensations on accepting or rejecting the draft. He seriously disputed crossing the Canadian border from Minnesota as a draft dodger.
This internal dispute he dealt with is something each soldier had to face in his narrative. What ultimately keeps Obrien from leaving is his inability to run away from his task. “The Important Things They Brought” represents this quality in all of the guys during their daily struggles in Vietnam. “In different ways it happened to all of them. Later, when the shooting ended, they would blink and peek up. They would touch their bodies, feeling embarassment, then quickly hiding it. They would require themselves to stand” (Obrien 1140).
Regardless if the soldiers were in assistance of or versus the war, none would forsake it for worry of the shame it would bring. The GIs who had actually surrendered and shot themselves in the foot to be left he mocks as “Pussies” or “Candyasses”. All the soldiers long for home and naturally have compassion with those who self-inflicted injury due to the fact that none are there to eliminate for magnificence; they just fight to prevent the embarrassment of giving up. The ignominy the warriors fear is noticeably similar to what Obrien would have felt if he evaded the draft.
Parallel with Obrien’s own experience, the team prevents shame by requiring their way through each day. This is among the numerous problems the males need to handle in their brand-new hellish environment. Obrien’s large accounts of the concrete items the men-at-arms carry exposes the physical freight of private soldiers along with fragments of their personalities and how they have the ability to handle the war. When describing the members of the group he composes “Henry Dobbins, who was a huge male, brought extra provisions; he was especially fond of canned peaches in heavy syrup over pound cake. (1132 ). Dobbins’ enthusiasm, apparent by his description as a “huge man”, is food; this exposes his character’s attachment to his old self and how he holds on to it to handle the horrendous scenario. The peaches represent Dobbins’ way of sweetening the disappointing situation that is the Vietnam War. Another fighter with deeply symbolic physical weights is Dave Jensen “who practiced field health, carried a toothbrush, dental floss, and a number of hotel-sized bars of soap he ‘d stolen on R&R” (Obrien 1132).
His hygiene, not unlike Dobbins’ peaches, is his way of clinging on to the old lifestyles he knew in America. He is constantly in an unclean overload, so for Jensen to manage he attempts to attain tidiness whenever he can. Obrien’s list continues, but the varying metafictional mementos signify each serviceman’s accessory to his past in order to maintain his stable psychological state. Although the physical loads are the centerpiece of conversation and analysis each man is afflicted with much deeper psychological concerns.
The tangible products obviously overloaded all of the guys, but not near as much as the intangible problems. “Grief, horror, love and yearning– these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and particular gravity, they had concrete weight” (1141 ). By “gravity” Obrien means that the emotional stresses were just as fatiguing as the physical weights on the soldiers’ backs. Nevertheless, these challenges are much more difficult to lug, approved the infantrymen can share them, however one can not simply minimize himself by passing the stress along to another person like with the tangible hampers.
Given that the cannon fodders can not drop these mental problems in the midst of combat they position a much higher hazard to their security individually and yet more critically, as an unit. No one in the troop is rather as afflicted by these stresses as Lieutenant Jimmy Cross. After Lavender’s death Lieutenant Cross burns the pictures and letters of Martha; “He understood it was just a gesture. Stupid, he thought. Emotional, too, but mostly simply silly. Lavender was dead. You couldn’t burn the blame.” (Obrien 1142). He felt that if he were not daydreaming of caring Martha back home, Lavender would still be alive.
This symbolic act of burning his accessories to the past exposes he will abandon his old past and take duty for the wellness of his unit. His character of acting as a leader is shown by his sacrifice of his mementos, something which none of the other soldiers do. Lieutenant Cross is a distinct character not only to his unit however to the entire story as a whole. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is the most symbolic character in this narrative due to the fact that he is their leader and prophet. Obrien composes of Cross in the last paragraph “He would not endure laxity.
He would reveal strength, distancing himself.” (1144 ). Lt. Cross had finally pertained to the realization that he exists to lead, not to be enjoyed. A prophet is a vessel that speaks for somebody else; every command provided by Lt. Cross is promoted the United States through his rank and therefore, is final. His very name is an allusion to a religious symbol, Jimmy Cross’ initials J. C, can be analyzed as the prophet Jesus Christ. His surname of Cross represents his personal problems of being the Lieutenant of that system.
Similar To Jesus Christ handling the sins of all mankind, Jimmy Cross has his own cross to bear by assuming responsibility for all of his men’s mistakes and problems, physical and emotional. (1097) Functions Cited Smith, Patrick A. “THE WORDS ARE ALL: A BRIEF BIO OF Tim O’brien.” Tim O’Brien: A Vital Buddy. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2005. ABC-CLIO eBook Collection. Web. 25 Sep 2013. Poppleton-Pritchard, Rosalind. “World Beyond Measure: An Ecological Critique Of Tim O’brien’s The Things They Carried And In The Lake Of The Woods. Vital Survey 9. 2 (1997 ): 80-93. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H. W. Wilson). Web. 2 Oct. 2013. Kluge, P. F. “Talking With Saipan: American Lit In A Pacific Outpost.” Liberal arts 31. 3 (2010 ): 20-23. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H. W. Wilson). Web. 25 Sept. 2013. Obrien, T. (2012 ). “The things they brought.” In F. Madden (Ed. ), Checking Out Literature (5 ed. ). NY: Pearson. ROBINSON, DANIEL. “Getting It Right: The Brief Fiction of Tim O’Brien.” REVIEW: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 40. 3 (1999 ): 257. Academic OneFile. Web. 2 Oct. 2013.