The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried
“The Things They Carried shows what war is really like”
War is so glorified and held in such high esteem that the darker sides are often overlooked. The Vietnam War is considered to be one of the most pointless wars in history, with many lives lost and an extreme amount of trauma sustained as a result. ‘The Things They Carried’ shows a realistic and unembellished truth of the reality that the soldiers who fought in Vietnam War went through. Many of these soldiers are only boys and the situations they are expected to deal with are often too much for anyone to bear. The physical and emotional conditions represent an individual hell for each person going through it and ‘the Things They Carried’ depicts that in a realistic and confronting way.
It was the guilt and shame of being a coward that drove most of the soldiers on. Many did not feel like they belonged in the war and many did not properly understand it. The reality of war is dirty and unglamorous, where boys are handed weapons and told to take command of overwhelming and uncontrollable situations.
In ‘On the Rainy River’ Tim feels that he was “too good for this war”, he didn't understand the politics or reasons for it and he didn't care much about it in general.   He is scared of dying and losing the life he has so he runs away to escape his duty. He is unable to stay away though, as his guilt and shame is so strong that he returns to take up arms. This shows that not everyone fights in war for honour; many do it because it is expected and are afraid to show weakness.
In war it is not just the physical burdens that the soldiers must carry, but also metaphorical ones, the emotional burdens are often more significant than the physical ones. In ‘the Things They Carried’ Lt. Jimmy Cross lists off all of the items the soldiers must carry with them, though it is the personal items that show the real person in the fatigues. Amongst his men they each carry things that matter to them, a...