The Things They Carried

Love in The Things They Carried: A Cataclysm of Emotional Warfare and Deterioration 12th Grade

Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a collection of essays, all centered on anecdotes of American soldiers during the Vietnam War. The seemingly straightforward recollections slowly reveal dense layers of personal and metaphorical meanings upon closer inspection, with the exploration of the characters’ emotions and the underlying motif of love creating the opportunity to trace how war changes a person in the realm of his emotions. The Vietnam warfare acts as a catalyst for all of the unsettling changes in the soldiers’ minds, raising the question whether the battlefield is actively responsible for this result or merely accelerating the inevitable manifestation of these personal issues, inherent in every person.

In the collection of essays The Things They Carried, the specific selection of the four stories “The Things They Carried,” “The Lives of the Dead,” “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” and “Stockings” creates a focus on the ambiguity of the modernist essays, thus conveying the destructive effect of war on people’s minds through the juxtaposition of contrasting interpretations of the popular literary motifs of love and passion. Through the...

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