The Things They Carried

Topics: Vietnam War, Army, Truth Pages: 3 (1437 words) Published: April 23, 2014
Theme of Tim O'Brien "The Things They Carried"
Fear is an underlying theme in "The Things They Carried." Lavendar, Kiowa, Lt. Cross, and the soldiers illustrate different types of fear. Jaclyna PerezJaclyna Perez
B.A. in English
All the men in Vietnam carried physical burdens, from the packs on their backs to their weapons and ammunition. However, they carried intangible burdens as well. In Tim O’Brien’s short story, there is an underlying theme of fear because no character can escape it. Fear is harbored by all the soldiers, even if they all do their best to hide it, and it becomes more evident as the story progresses. Lavendar

Lavendar is the most obvious of all the characters carrying fear, and he can only deal with it through smoking dope, taking tranquilizers, and carrying extra arms and ammunition. In a way it is ironic that he carried these extra physical burdens because he died when he did not have immediate fear of an enemy and no urgent thoughts as to protect himself. Kiowa

Kiowa is in awe of Lavendar’s death because he was the only one to see it happen. He and the others realize that death can take them at any time, even when they think they are safe. Kiowa could not get his mind off the event and repeats the story to the other men, revealing his thoughts and fear of death. In order to deal with death, he dehumanizes Lavendar by comparing him to cement, thus making death seem less personal. Even though Kiowa is portrayed as not feeling emotions, it is this detachment from death that enables him to hide his fear. Lt. Cross

Lt. Cross doesn’t fear death but of disappointing and failing to protect his men. He feels personally responsible for the death of Lavendar; he thinks that if he had been paying more attention, Lavendar’s death could have been prevented. Because of his fear, he becomes more determined to distance himself from the men and be more of a leader for them. Like Kiowa, he will not...
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