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The Things They Carried

by Tim O’Brien

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Why is the reader told at the beginning of the story that Ted Lavender was shot and does this ruin the suspense?

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It also introduces us immediately to a theme that runs deeply through all of Tim O'Brien's stories, the randomness of war. There is no shortage of death while at war, but some seem harder to comprehend than others.

It is easy for the men to understand a person being killed in battle, they have and will see it too many times, but Ted's death is different and has a lasting impact.

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I think that the suspense changes. Rather than not knowing that he was shot at all, the reader looks forward to finding out why it happened/how everyone is going to deal with it/how it effects everyone else in the story. The suspense becomes even greater, because you know its going to happen, but you still have to anticipate the shockwaves its going to cause/how others will react. I think that this is why Tim O'Brien started the story with his shooting, so that the story could be about reactions and not the actual event.

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