In "The Things They Carried," what did the platoon do in the village of Than Khe?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tim O'Brien, author of "The Things They Carried," is very explicit about what the platoon did when it entered the village of Than Khe.  The exact description is below:

"They burned everthing.  They shot chickens and dogs, they trashed the village well, they called in artillery and watched the wreckage, then they marched for several hours through the hot afternoon..."

"The Things They Carried" is a work of fiction, but it reflects O'Brien's experiences in the war in Vietnam, and is considered one of the finer historical novels about that divisive conflict.  The destruction of the village of Than Khe, similar to the destruction of the village believed to harbor Viet Cong sympathizers in Oliver Stone's film based on his own experiences in the war, "Platoon," illuminates the tragedy of the Vietnam War.  Unable to identify the enemy, and driven by fear and vengeance following the deaths of comrades, American soldiers lose what little sense of humanity had survived to that point and carry out crimes against civilians.

Read the study guide:
The Things They Carried

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