The Things They Carried by
Tim O'Brien

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Author Biography:
Tim O'Brien is from small town Minnesota. He was born in Austin on October 1, 1946, a birth date he shares with several of his characters (as well as with his webmaster!), and grew up in Worthington,"Turkey Capital of the World."He excelled at Macalester College. Graduated in 1968 with a BA in political science and a draft notice.O'Brien was against the war, but reported for service and was sent to Vietnam.After Vietnam he became a graduate student at Harvard. No doubt he was one of very few Vietnam veterans there at that time, much less Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) holders. Having the opportunity to do an internship at the Washington Post, he eventually left Harvard to become a newspaper reporter. O'Brien's career as a reporter gave way to his fiction writing after publication of his memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Send Me Home.Tim O'Brien is now a visiting professor and endowed chair at Southwest Texas State University where he teaches in the Creative Writing Program.

Setting: This book took place in Vietnam and Massachusetts in late 1960s - late 1980s.. It was written in Massachusetts in the late 1980s.

Summary of Novel: Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, of the Alpha Company, carries various reminders of his love for Martha, a girl from his college in New Jersey who has given no indication of returning his love. Cross carries her letters in his backpack and her good-luck pebble in his mouth. After a long day’s march, he unwraps her letters and imagines the prospect of her returning his love someday. Martha is an English major who writes letters that quote lines of poetry and never mention the war. Though the letters are signed “Love, Martha” Cross understands that this gesture should not give him false hope. He wonders, uncontrollably, about whether or not Martha is a virgin. He carries her photos, including one of her playing volleyball, but closer to his heart still are his memories. They went on a single date, to see the movie Bonnie and Clyde. When Cross touched Martha’s knee during the final scene, Martha looked at him and made him pull his hand back. Now, in Vietnam, Cross wishes that he had carried her up the stairs, tied her to the bed, and touched her knee all night long. He is haunted by the cutting knowledge that his affection will most likely never be returned.

Plot:
The protagonist, who is named Tim O’Brien, begins by describing an event that occurred in the middle of his Vietnam experience. “The Things They Carried” catalogs the variety of things his fellow soldiers in the Alpha Company brought on their missions. Several of these things are intangible, including guilt and fear, while others are specific physical objects, including matches, morphine, M-16 rifles, and M&M’s candy.Throughout the collection, the same characters reappear in various stories.

Literary Device:Foreshadowing =O’Brien mentions the deaths of men such as Ted Lavender, Curt Lemon, and Kiowa before he gives detailed accounts of how and when they died in later stories.

Literary Criticism: "In many respects, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried concerns the relationship between fiction and the narrator. In this novel, O'Brien himself is the main character--he is a Vietnam veteran recounting his experiences during the war, as well as a writer who is examining the mechanics behind writing stories. These two aspects of the novel are juxtaposed to produce a work of literature that comments not only upon the war, but also upon the actual art of fiction: the means of storytelling, the purposes behind them, and ultimately the relationship between fiction and reality itself." - Michele Friedlander

My View: I absolutely loved the book because it was a love story. However it also showed the problems of Vietnam and how he Jimmy really loved Martha and he wanted her to love him back. I loved the things they carried around some of th things were silly but meaningful. No matter how bad the situation was in Vietnam the Men stood up and fought like champions.

Main Characters: 1.Tim O’Brien- is both the narrator and protagonist of The Things They Carried. The work recounts his personal experience in the Vietnam War and allows him to comment on the war. He enters the war a scared young man afraid of the shame that dodging the war would bring him and leaves the war a guilt-ridden middle-aged man who tells stories about Vietnam in order to cope with his painful memories.
2.Jimmy Cross - Jimmy Cross’s character represents the profound effects responsibility has on those who are too immature to handle it. As a sophomore in college, he signs up for the Reserve Officers Training Corps because it is worth a few credits and because his friends are doing it. But he doesn’t care about the war and has no desire to be a team leader. As a result, when he is led into battle with several men in his charge, he is unsure in everything he does.
3.
Mitchell Sanders- is a likable soldier and a devoted friend. He has a sense of irony, picking lice off his body and sending them back to his draft board in Ohio, and a sense of loyalty, refusing to help O’Brien inflict revenge on the medic Bobby Jorgenson and standing by Rat Kiley in his decision to escape Vietnam by shooting himself in the toe. He also has a strong sense of justice—when Cross leads the troops into the sewage field where Kiowa eventually meets his death, Sanders refuses to forgive him because the evidence shows that he should have known better.
4.Kiowa-
In life, Kiowa is diligent and honest, introspective and compassionate. He is practical, carrying moccasins in order to be able to walk silently and helping his fellow soldiers to rationalize their own unfortunate actions, especially O’Brien’s killing of a young Vietnamese soldier. A Baptist and a Native American, he brings a perspective different from that of his fellow soldiers to the unfortunate events that befall the Alpha Company.

Bibliography:
http://www.pshares.org/images/upload/O%27Brien_Photo.jpeghttp://www.illyria.com/tob/tobbio.html
http://regularrumination.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/things-they-carried.jpghttp://www.lasalle.edu/~mollenha/vietnam1970marines.jpghttp://core.ecu.edu/engl/whisnantl/4300/michele.htm
http://core.ecu.edu/engl/whisnantl/4300/michele.htm
www.galenet.com/servlet/LitIndex
http://ipl.org/div/litrit
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