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Commentary on The Things They Carried Essay


The Things They Carried by Tim OBrien has many chapters throughout it which exemplify the Vietnam experience. Certain chapters in the book though including How to Tell a True War Story, and On the Rainy River exemplify many different parts of the Vietnam experience.

How to Tell a True War Story is one of the most symbolic chapters in the entire book. The chapter talks about how Curt Lemon was killed while playing catch with Rat Kiley one afternoon when he stepped on a 105 round. As the chapter continues we hear a story from Mitchell Sanders about the six men who went on a mission and who heard sounds through the fog and rocks. The chapter shows how many soldiers who were involved in this war had lost their insanity. OBrien also explains how if a war story is told its hardly ever true, or at least not all of it. What he says is correct, and is true even in life today. As a story is told a number of times you forget certain parts of the story, or change them by mistake, but the true war stories are the ones that you cant forget or lie about if you wanted to, and they are the ones that stay so vivid in your mind even though they are the ones that you want to be able to forget. OBriens message was that no matter how hard the soldiers who fought in Vietnam wanted to forget certain things that happened it was not possible for them to be able to.

On the Rainy River was also another chapter in OBriens book which exemplified the Vietnam experience. As OBrien struggles to run away from his problems he finds that he only has one reason not to, and that reason is shame. Many men at the time of the Vietnam War did not want to go and tried everything possible in their power to not half to just like OBrien. Some fled to Canada and burned their draft cards, while others just went to just get it over with, but many of them did not want to be there in the first place. These men did not want to die in Vietnam. Some like OBrien had just finished college and were starting their careers, but in an instant it was all taken away from them. In OBriens case he chose to flee to Canada just like others but when he was given a choice he chose to go to war not because he wanted to, but because he could picture people in his town talking about him, or saying how he was an embarrassment to his country for not going to fight in the war.

The Things They Carried by Tim OBrien has many messages in it throughout the novel which all can exemplify the Vietnam experience. The men at this time did not have the choice to enlist like we do as citizens today. They were forced to go whether they wanted to or not, and if they didnt they could have been arrested and thrown in jail. Also the novel shows how the men who fought in this war saw so many things that they will never forget because they are not able to.

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