Analysis of Novel "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien

Have you ever read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien? Well, let me tell you that the soldiers are at war and they each deal with different type of things whether it may be the same things or different things. For instance,in the book, the men deal with Curt Lemons death, PTSD and torture of an innocent water buffalo. This occurs with not just two characters but many and two of the characters are Rat Kiley and Norman Bowker they have either seen or experienced at least one of those things.

When you look back at the story and you see all the people that have died those deaths have a huge impact on the soldier. Just like Lemons death, it has a big impact on Rat Kiley because he and Lemon were on patrol but yet they were messing around and did not realize how dangerous the war could be. Tim O’Brien states “they were kids; they just didn’t know.

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A nature hike, they thought, not even a war, so they went off into the shade of some giant trees…” This lays out the innocence that the soldiers had and they did not take the positions they were being put in seriously. At the time of the war, they did not take it seriously because clearly, you can see that they were goofing off, at a time like that you need to take it seriously or else someone’s life could be in danger just like Lemon died.

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Both soldiers were playing a game instead of being on patrol like they were supposed to be doing. In the war, it is not a joke you either take it serious of you do no and have you lose your life. It is stated in the book “a friend of his gets killed, so about a week later Rat sits down a writes a letter to the guy’s sister. Rat tells her what a great brother she had, how together the guy was, a number one pal…” This show how Rat deals with Lemons death and how he loved him as a friend but not only as a friend but as a soldier as well.

Let’s examine Norman Bowker with the things he went through like PTSD when you have what Bowker had you have flashbacks, nightmares, and traumas. Bowker only had trauma by the things he has seen in the war like some of his fellow soldiers died. But most importantly Kiowa’s death it is mentioned in the book that “much of it is hard to remember. I  sit at this typewriter and stare through my words and watch Kiowa sink into the muck…’ Bowker was trying to save his friend by pulling him and earn his Silver Star medal so he thinks he is responsible for what happened to Kiowa but it was really not his fault. He has a desire to return to the war and fix the events that caused Kiowa’s death in the muck. Norman has traumas through telling his story to people he wants to tell his father about how he almost won the Silver star medal but he told other people instead. It is also noted that “turning on his headlights, driving slowly, Norman Bowker remembered how he had taken hold of Kiowa’s boot and pulled hard…” At that moment he lost a friend but at the same time lost his Silver Star medal, the smell made him let go of Kiowa. After what had occurred he is not quite sure of how to return back to his normal life after the Vietnam war in a world clearly unconcerned to the horrible things he has experienced and in the end committed suicide.

As it was mentioned before about Curt Lemons death, that affected Rat to go and torture a water buffalo. The reason for the buffalo was that Rat was filled with rage to what had just happened and it made him act upon it without thinking before he did what he did. Looking back to the text it says “he opened up a can of C rations, pork and beans, but the baby buffalo wasn’t interested. Rat shrugged. He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee…” As we can see from what Rat did it made him want to get out his emotions of rage and put it on the buffalo. He took Lemons death out on the baby buffalo, the poor buffalo had nothing to do with what had just happened to Lemon and Rat but the buffalo ended up being killed. Lemon was not only a soldier in the war but he was also Rat’s best friend in the world that he had just lost. Rat Kiley was not the only one who was there torturing the buffalo other soldier friends saw that he did and no one had words to explain what had just happened. The buffalo was meant to be tortured not killed because fat wanted to the buffalo to feel the same pain that Lemon had felt after he died.

In conclusion, these two characters when through something that no one would believe they would go through in the war. But these things happened one after the other just like Lemons death lead to Kiley killing the buffalo and Kiowa’s death lead to Bowker having traumas so one thing lead up to another in Tim O’Brien’s book.

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Analysis of Novel "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien. (2021, Mar 19). Retrieved from

Analysis of Novel "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien

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