Chapter 4 Summary

The fourth story of The Things They Carried is “On the Rainy River.” The narrator, Tim O’Brien, explains that he is about to tell a story that he has never told anyone before. It begins in 1968 while O’Brien is in college. O’Brien imagines himself as a hero that would certainly stand up to evil. Though he has not done anything heroic, he tells himself that he could save up his courage for a time when he might really need it, a theory that the narrator looks back on as “comfortable.”

He is opposed to the Vietnam War and he has even written some articles in the school’s newspaper against it. After all, it was uncertain why the war should be fought, whereas it was certain that men would die. He...

(The entire section is 602 words.)