Book Review: “The Things They Carried”

Book+Review%3A+%22The+Things+They+Carried%22

Dawn Farrer, Staff Writer

“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lives. Instead of the regular book that follows a single plot line, “The Things They Carried” contains many different stories, but the book is written in a way that seems to connect them all together. O’Brien plays with the meanings of fiction and reality claiming that sometimes there is no difference between the two.  O’Brien writes “In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen. What seems to happen becomes its own happening and has to be told that way.” 

It follows the men of Alpha company including Tim O’Brien himself, Henry Dobbins, Ted Lavender, Rat Kiley, Jimmy Cross, Curt Lemon, Norman Bowker, Mitchell Sanders, and Kiowa. The first chapter of the book starts by explaining the characters and all of the things they have to and choose to carry, Rat Kiley carried comic books and candy, Kiowa carried a copy of the new testament, and Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl.  Tim O’Brien tells the things they left and lost on the way, Jimmy cross burned the letters from the girl he loved, and more subtly it begins to explain how the soldiers slowly lost their humanity. He then talks about the things they will have to carry for the rest of their lives, the image of the man he killed, the old man he saw sprawled out near a pigpen, and image of his best friend, screaming and sinking down into the mud. This book doesn’t talk about the glory or pride you gain fighting for your country, but instead it is a series of stories explaining what happened to them, the gore, nightmares, bodies, but also the strange peaceful moments the experience, when they came into a village and a small boy that was missing a leg came up to them and asked for candy, the look on his face when they gave it to him, and the time the spent with two monks in a chapel. The things they carried is a book that is able to depict the truths of war. This is an amazing book and I highly recommend it.