Categorization of the Things or Objects the Characters Carry in O’ Brien’s Story


William Timothy O’Brien has written many stories during his lifetime. The first story he wrote was when he was nine years old. As O’Brien was growing up, he took a break from writing. He began again while serving in the Vietnam War. When he began writing again, he quickly readapted to an autobiographical style of writing. These wartime stories are what have made O’Brien one of the leading writers today. In the story “The Things They Carried,” O’Brien shows how soldiers live war, and how the objects they carry are related to several different circumstances. In this excellent story, it is correct to say that O’Brien makes as thing and categorize the “things or objects” carried by the characters into three different groups.


In the first part of the story, the writer shows us that what the characters carry depends of what they need. It is logical to think that soldiers would never go to war without the basic things they need; such as munitions, food, and water. “The things they [carry are] largely determined by necessity ” (O’Brien 1425). Every platoon that goes to war always has some special elements depending on the land. These necessities are described by the author as dictated necessities. “Because the land was mined and body-trapped, it was SOP for each man to carry a steel- centered, nylon-covered flak jacket…”(1426). Also if you are going to a place where many mosquitoes are, you may need something that keeps them away from you. In the story, O’Brien takes care of every single detail as mosquitoes and he give us what the soldiers use to have control over them. The author makes a good job even with other kind of necessities soldiers have such as sentimental. By listening to stories we can understand that soldiers in war always have very close to them some objects that stands for something beyond or larger than itself. The necessities of the soldiers are not only the war elements, but also some emotional objects. The combinations of those two are the essential things in war according to O’ Brien.


A second group in which is categorized the objects soldiers carry, depends on the rank and field of specialty of the soldiers. In war, soldiers have to carry things depending on how big their body is. An example to this fact is that in an unfavorable land no body wants to have more weight than what he/she can carry during walking, climbing, running and jumping. As big as a soldier is, the more weight he will carry. “As a big man, therefore a machine gunner, Henry Dobbins [carry]…” (1427). In the other hand, soldiers have to carry things depending on their rank. A medic does not carry a PRC-25 radio just because it is not his function. He or she usually carries medicine and qirurgic things. The leader of the platoon must have the maps, code books, etc; the radiotelephone operator must carry the RPC-25 radio.


Finally what soldiers carry in war changes depending on the mission they are up to. When soldiers are in the mountains, they carry some tools that are useful in that specific kind of land. They carry machetes, canvas traps, mosquito netting, and extra bug juice, etc. Moreover, if the mission is during the day or the night it also affects the things soldiers carry. O’Brien narrates the kind of things they carry in different missions. He describes every single detail of what they carry like this: “In certain heavily mined AOs [(areas of operations)], where the land [is] dense with Toe Poppers and Bouncing Betties, they [take] turns humping twenty-eight-pounds mine detectors” (1429). If the land does not have mines it is very brainless to “hump” that heavy machine.


In the story “The Things They Carry,” O’Brien starts by discussing the tools of war soldiers carry. “The weapon weighed 7.5 pounds, 8.2 pounds with its full 20-round magazine” (1427). Then he goes to the actual emotions the soldiers carry. All of these soldiers have special memories that they carry with them while fighting as a way to have something that will make them come back home. It takes the soldiers courage to