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Necessities in Tim O’Brien’s Things They Carried

Necessities in The Things They Carried

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

Comparing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Song of Roland

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Song of Roland

In mythological Europe, knightly heroes abounded whereever one

could choose to roam. There are hundreds of tales of knights who embodied

the concept of chivalry, slew huge dragons, slew legions of foes in single

combat, and still made it home in time for dinner. Of all these tales,

ballads and poems, a few have risen to the fore front of the genre as an

example for the rest of the stories to follow. I will be comparing the

positive and negative personality traits of two heroes from the famous

poems “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and “The Song of Roland.”

On the lighter side, both Gawain and Roland had more positive

attributes than they did negative. Both men were honorable, almost to a

fault. For example in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” Gawain agreed to

be on time for his own execution:

“Nor I know you not, knight, your name nor your court.

But tell me truly thereof, and teach me your name, and I

shall fare forth to find you, so far as I may, and this I say

in good certain, and swear upon oath.”


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