In The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, what is the effect of the constant descriptions of how much things weigh that the men carried, and how does that help develop their character?

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mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the book, The Things They Carried, O'Brien uses the weight of what the men in Vietnam carried to show the difficulties presented by equipment used and the fatigue the weight caused physically, mentally, and emotionally.  O'Brien also uses the other things they carried to show that each character carries something important to him, to remind him of home or his normal life outside of Vietnam.  For example, Kiowa carries a New Testament which his father gave to him which Kiowa reads from, uses as a pillow, and which reminds him of his family.  Without the book, the reader would know less about the man Kiowa was and less about the soldier Kiowa was as when Kiowa tells Tim that Tim was correct in refusing to make fun of the enemy by refusing to shake the hand of the dead soldier. The title of the book emphasizes the importance of what they carried in the war fields.

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The Things They Carried

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