The 24-year-old is in charge of a company fighting in Vietnam. He is in love with Martha, and carries pictures of her and letters from her around until he burns them.
Martha is a few years younger than Jimmy Cross, does not love the soldier back but writes him letters and sends him mementos anyway. She is a poet and dreamer and university student who loves the work of Virginia Woolf.
Lavender is shot and killed while taking a pee. Before then he is the most frightened of the soldiers, and carries a supply of drugs to keep him calm.
Kiowa is a Native American member of the company who is always slightly suspicious of white people. He carries around a Bible, which he uses as a pillow, and mocassins for good luck. He is Tim O'Brien's best friend in the company.
Bowker is a gentle soldier in the company who carries the thumb of a Vietnamese boy for good luck. He ultimately cannot bear not having been killed in the war and commits suicide when he goes home.
Dobbins is a fat member of the company who carries extra rations of dessert.
Kiley is a member of the company who carries comic books and is a great storyteller. He is also a medic who treats O'Brien when he is shot. Kiley eventually shoots himself to be discharged.
Curt Lemon's sister
We never find out her name. The one role she has is to not reply to a letter about her brother's death.
This is the narrator of the book, who has the same name of the author, but is not the same person. Some stories are told from his point of view, others are told in the third person.
Lemon is one of the only characters who enjoys the feeling of danger. He is killed when he steps on a landmine.
Azar is a foot soldier who seems to like war for war's sake, has a cruel side, and makes fun of the way a Vietnamese girl dances.
Sanders is a more experienced soldier who controls the radio. He is one of the few to blame Cross for Lavender's death.
An inexperienced, green soldier, Jorgenson fails to help O'Brien in time when he is wounded. O'Brien vows to get revenge on Jorgenson.
North Vietnamese Soldier
We never learn the names of any Vietnamese people, but this one holds a special place in O'Brien's imagination. O'Brien has killed him, and fantasizes about what his life might have been like. Decades later, he still dreams about him.
O'Brien's young "girlfriend" from elementary school, who dies of a brain tumor. When O'Brien is trying to decide whether to escape to Canada, he imagines Linda watching him.
Classmate of Linda and "Timmy" (Tim O'Brien) when they were all young.
Strunk is best friends with Dave Jensen, and the two have an agreement that if either is injured badly the other will shoot to kill them. When part of Strunk's leg is blown off by a landmine he is terrified that Jensen will kill him.
Best friends with Lee Strunk, the two are almost unidentifiable from one another as characters.
Kathleen is Tim O'Brien's daughter who tries to persuade him to be less obsessed with the war. She accompanies him on a trip back to Vietnam.
Diamond is a soldier assigned to the same medical detachment as Rat Kiley before the latter joins the Alpha Company.
An elderly man who owns the lodge on the border with Canada. He knows that O'Brien is there trying to decide whether to evade the draft, but does not push the matter or make the boy talk about the decision.
Norman Bowker's ex-girlfriend.
Norman Bowker's best friend, who is dead.
The Things They Carried Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Things They Carried is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I think this is a book about storytelling rather than simply war stories. The metaphor becomes more real than the facts. The stories are dramatic and tend reconcile the thematic content with the harsh factual realities of war. Much like his guilt,...
Tim is examining his own motivations for running away to Canada, avoiding the war, or going to war in Vietnam. Tim says either choice was not good, it was an agonizing moral dilemma, "I feared the war, yes, but I also feared exile."