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Word Count: 652
THE THINGS THEY CARRIED In his book The Things They Carried Tim OBrien describes a group of soldiers marching through Vietnam He does this by describing the items that each of them carries with him during the march The things that the soldiers carry with them are both tangible and intangible items and what these things are depends upon the individual soldier They carry the basic necessities for survival and the bare minimum to make life as livable as possible They also carry memories and fears The weight of these abstract items is as real as that of any physical ones and unlike those physical objects they are not so easily cast away Throughout the story OBrien alternates between narrative passages and simple descriptions of the items that the soldiers are carrying This fragmentation brings focus to the things the men are carrying both tangible and intangible without downplaying the narration In the descriptive segments of the story OBrien is very exact in his descriptions As a first lieutenant and platoon leader Jimmy Cross carried a compass maps code books binoculars and a 45 caliber pistol that weighed 29 pounds full loaded OBrien gives only a straightforward descriptions in these segments and the writing is void of any feeling or sentiment When describing the intangible things the writing is a lot more in tune with the emotions of the characters Jimmy Cross humped his love for Martha up the hills and through the swamps Lieutenant Cross remembered touching her left knee A dark theater he remembered when he touched her knee she turned and looked at him in a sad sober way that made him pull his hand back but he would always remember OBriens writing takes on more sentimentality in these sections and adds a great deal of emotional weight for the reader This contrast in narrative style is necessary to give emphasis to the intangible things that the men carried
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