What bothers Norman Bowker in The Things They Carried? Why is he unable or unwilling to talk about what’s on his mind?

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Karyth Cara eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Norman's silence might best be explained as a silencing weight of serious recognition of the immense magnitude of war and death. This is symbolized by the thumb he carries with him, a gruesome reminder of fragile packages of life and death that the soldiers all carried with them. When Norman finally tries to use Tim a s vehicle to talk about what is inside his thoughts and feelings (thoughts may be more meaningful to Norman's psychology than feelings), he is overburdened by the realities of war and what one carries in war and ends his life.

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The Things They Carried

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