Relatively few books have been written about the effects the battles they faced had on their psychological state of mind. One of the most well-known of these books is “The Things They Carried,” a collection of different but related short stories written by Tim O’Brien that explores the things that the American soldiers carried with them to the battlefield, which on the surface are only material things, but when closely looked into symbolize things far greater and more important.
The title of the book emphasizes the things that the soldiers carried with them. Once read, it is clear that the “things” that are referred to in the title do not just pertain to the physical object themselves, but are symbolic of the personal emotions and connections that are attached to them. These things, as is seen and read later on in the story, play a great role in the way they think and perceive the world. For example, Lt. Jimmy Cross carries with him a picture of a woman back in his hometown named Martha. He seems to show quite an obsession with her. In the beginning of the first chapter, it illustrates him constantly thinking about her. At the same time, it also illustrates how the feelings are unrequited. Cross’s love for Martha has a big impact on his thoughts and actions later on in the story. Lost in fantasies of Martha, Cross accidentally wounds the back of Lavender’s head, and kills him. It is seen that this emotional burden and feeling of guilt remains with him many years after the incidents of the war.
Another example of the physical load that greatly affects the character in the story is that of Henry Dobbins. He carries with him the pantyhose of his girlfriend, which is a very important symbol of home, love, and peace back at home, which is absent in the war he is in. As the sole object that represents love and peace, the things, which he longs for the most in the time of distress, chaos and death all around him, it becomes for him a sort of amulet. He