The Things They Carried is a 1990 collection of short stories by Tim O'Brien about a platoon of American soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War. The stories follow the members of O'Brien's platoon, their traumas, their values, their losses and hopes. Although much of the stories reflects real events, O'Brien wrote the stories as fiction, believing that, unlike a chronicle of purely-factual information, fiction better conveyed the emotional and experiential truth of the war.

Summary of The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

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The Things They Carried Chapter Summaries (Free)

1SparkNotes

Review: The most popular website for book notes. SparkNotes was created by students for students, and their summaries are accessible and extremely well-written. Besides the usual plot overview, chapter summaries, and character analysis, SparkNotes differentiates itself with a section discussing themes, motifs, and symbols.

2BookRags

Review: Boasting the largest collection of book summaries, BookRags is the best option for titles you can't find elsewhere. They offer all of the basics (quotes, chapter summary, characters, historical context, literary criticism) but also walk through a few major topics that recur throughout the book, which can be particularly useful for writing essays.

3Cliffs Notes

Review: The original provider of professionally-written study guides, Cliffs Notes were available in print form before the Internet even existed. Their content is very comprehensive and includes an analysis of characters, detailed chapter by chapter summaries, critical essays, essay topics, and many other sections.

4Pink Monkey

Review: Their chapter summaries aren't as good as other providers, but PinkMonkey often has interesting insights that aren't mentioned elsewhere on the Internet. For example, they go over literary elements (like setting, conflict, and mood), compare and contrast, and symbolism/motifs. It's a good site if you want to find a unique fact or angle that other students don't know about.