illustration of the backside of a soldier in full military gear

The Things They Carried

by Tim O’Brien

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Topics for Further Study

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Read a story describing the American soldier's experience in another war. How is the Vietnam War narrative different, if at all, in form and content?

Do some research on the phase of the Vietnam War that was called "Vietnamization" by American policy makers. How would these political and military decisions affect the mission and attitude of infantrymen like those in ''The Things They Carried’’?

What is the nature of relations between Vietnam and the United States today? How do the Vietnamese people feel about Americans, and what do Vietnam veterans think about Vietnam and its people? You may want to start by looking at Tim O'Brien's 1994 article in the New York Times Magazine.

Why did returning veterans from Vietnam have so much difficulty reintegrating into American society? How has the public's attitude changed since the end of the war and why? Consider such factors as increased awareness of post-traumatic stress syndrome and the building of the memorial in Washington.

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