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The Things They Carried Necessities Essay Research


The Things They Carried: Necessities

In The Things They Carried , the characters themselves probably could

not tell you why they carried many of the things they did. The things they

carried can be divided into three basic groups, the things that everyone had to

carry in order to survive, the things that individuals chose to carry, and the

mental burdens that many carried without choice.

The necessities that the men were forced to carry were, for example, P-

38 can openers, pocket knives, matches, C-rations, water, a nylon covered flak

jacket, an M-16 assault rifle, and for Henry Dobbins, an M-60, which weighed 33-

38 pounds including ammunition. All of these items were carried for two simple

reasons, to survive, and to kill which was of course their job.

Next, the things that each individual chose to carry, for many of the

men , these items were things that they personally believed that they could not

live without, but to others would be unnecessary for survival. For First

Lieutenant Jimmy Cross it was pictures of Martha, and also letters from her whom

he loved unrequitedly. Another example and proof of irrelevance to survival was

Ted Lavenders six or seven ounces of dope and nine extra M-79 Grenades which he

was carrying when he was shot in the head. Extras such as these really did

nothing more than give the men a false sense of security, which was probably

necessary to cope with their surroundings.

Last but certainly not least they carried with them love, guilt,

memories, and fear of death. Lieutenant cross, for example carried love, guilt,

and even though he tried never to show it, fear. Tim O’Brien shows us this in

the passage shortly after the death of Ted Lavender, “He pictured Martha’s

smooth young face, thinking he loved her more than anything, more than his men,

and now Ted Lavender was dead because he loved her so much and could not stop

thinking about her “(8). For these mentally weighted burdens there was no

choice to carry or not to carry, they just had to be carried, some of them for

the rest of their lives.

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