What do you think really happened to the six man patrol at the listening post in Chapter 7 of The Things They Carried?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 7 "How to Tell a True War Story," Mitchell Sanders tells O'Brien about a six-man patrol that was sent into the mountains to listen for enemy activity.  When the men get to the listening post, they remain absolutely silent for an entire week.  Then, Sanders says that the men start to hear music coming from the mountains even though no one is there.  Then they hear voices like a cocktail party is happening.  The men originally hesitate to call in the music, but then they cannot take the sounds and radio in for firepower.  The army blows up the mountain, but afterwards, the men claim that they can still hear the party.  They leave the listening post and are confronted by their superior officer.  The men only have silence for the officer, and Sanders says that in their stare is the story of the entire war.  I think that the men hallucinated the music and the voices after being at the listening post for so long.  The war had terrible effects on the soldiers, and this is one of those effects.  Sanders says that the mountains were even spookier than the jungle, so it would seem plausible that the mens fears were internalized and processed as the sound of music and voices.  The men have no answer for their superior officer because, according to the novel, there are no reasons for any of the missions on which the men are sent. 

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The Things They Carried

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