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The Things They Carried: Reader Response

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The Things They Carried: Reader Response

Post  Admin on September 15th 2008, 12:23 pm

What kind of "things" did the soldiers carry? Literally and figuratively what did the soldiers have to "hump"Question


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The Things They Carried

Post  CDuBs on September 15th 2008, 12:30 pm

What I liked about the way Tim O' Brien wrote about the things that they carried was that he switched seamlessly between discussing literal weight, such as their numours weapons, the several ounces of dope that Lavender "humped," or the heavy ponchos, and figurative weight, such as the memory of Martha Lieutenant Cross "humps," along with the guilt over Lavender's death. This made the two weights, though obviously different, seem comprable, both considerable factors to the soldiers' burdens.

I would just like to say that I really pity Lieutenant Cross, and in my opinion he need not blame himself for Lavender's death. I suppose if I were in his shoes I might be inclined to blame myself, too, but as an unbiased outsider looking in, it really does not appear there is much more he could have done, even if he had not been sidetracked by his unrequitted love for Martha.

My question for everyone is, did anyone else continue reading on to the chapter titled On the Rainy River? Can we please talk about Elroy Berdahl?


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Re: The Things They Carried: Reader Response

Post  katyreb on September 15th 2008, 12:33 pm

They carried what they needed - their weapons, their clothing, food and water. They carried what was important to them - letters, magazines, keepsakes. They carried things based on job - a radio, medical supplies. At times they had to carry each other, when one was injured or sick. But they didn't carry only physical things, they also carried within them their thoughts, their hardships, their injuries, their memories, their emotions, the things that made them who they were as a person.
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Re: The Things They Carried: Reader Response

Post  Elyssia Primus on September 15th 2008, 12:36 pm

The soldiers had to carry weapons and supplies, but they also carried the sick and the weak. They carried the injured and the dead. The soldiers also carried memories, and the burdens of their comrads. By specifing the wieghts of the physical things that the soldiers carried, Tim O'Brien makes the emotional burdens seem too large to be specified. Tim O'Brien also make the emotional burdens seem heavier than the physical ones because the soldiers took turns humping these burdens, which they seldom did with physical objects.

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Post  Allie5491 on September 15th 2008, 12:37 pm

The soldiers had to carry pounds of food and supplies like can openers, weapons, pocket knives, extra clothes and ammo. They also carried things to keep them entertained like magazines, drugs, photographs, and books. Most importantly, though, were they heavy burdens they carried along with them. They carried the enormous pressure of not showing fear or regret, of not feeling emotions; they carried their memories of home and loved ones they had left behind. Lieutenant Cross carried letters from the woman he loved, along with his regrets about never sharing his feelings with her. O'Brien reflects upon the immense pressures the soldiers felt that were far heavier than the equipment they lugged. Cross had to carry the responibility for the lives of his soldiers, each man had to face death without showing feeling or remorse."Humping" was a word they used to mean carrying something. "...to hump meant to walk, or to march, but it implied burdens far beyond the intransitive."

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Jeff Response

Post  Admin on September 15th 2008, 12:37 pm

The soldiers all carry a pretend attitudes. In the face of fear, they try to be brave,or indifferent. Not revealing their true emotions weighs them down as much as any physical baggage. When Ted is killed, the soilders do not react with sadness. But, there is a tension building behind the emotions they hold back. "Men killed and died because they were embaressed not to" In this quote O'Brien reveals there is true emotion that drives the soldiers' actions. Yet, it is apparent that, to eachother, the pent up emotions they carried are taboo to be discussed or unloaded on one another.


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Re: The Things They Carried: Reader Response

Post  hdavis on September 15th 2008, 12:39 pm

Literally, the soldiers had to "hump" or carry such things as their guns, mail, raincoats, and helmets. The author notes how the physical things they carried were what they felt they really needed, or what was necessary for their rank or position.
Figuratively, the soldiers carried the weight of their past, and also the dread or guilt of what they were doing in Vietnam. They also carry their emotions. For instance, they soldiers carry the pain or numbness that they feel over the death of their fellow soldiers such as Lavender.
Lavender's death symbolizes the weight that the whole troop carries together.
Tim O'Brien uses a lot of repetition of certain phrases such as "The things they carried" to emphasize his ideas about the weight that the soldiers have to carry.
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Re: The Things They Carried: Reader Response

Post  WKeller on September 15th 2008, 12:38 pm

The soldiers in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried carried many burdens. All of the various equipment of theirs the most physical burden of them. They carried their emotions, horrors, and each other. Most importantly they carried each other. It was the support of the group that kept them moving and Lieutenant Cross' mourning of Lavender's death. This showed the others that he cared and that after that he was determined to keep his men alive.

Another thing they carried were sentimental and personal items. Lavender's tranquilizers and marijuana. Cross' pebble, letters and photos. Kiowa's hatchet. They served as personal symbols and used them to say to themselves "I'm still alive, and this is going home with me when I get out."

The word "hump" would be a simple choice for O'Brien to use for the situation. "Hump" in its simplest meaning is "To move up and down." To take this literally with all the equipment carried by the soldiers durring their long marches they were more than likely jostling around with everything on their backs. O'Brien defines "hump" means "to carry" which can also be taken into effect. The soldiers carried themselves, each other, everything on their backs, leaving heavy physical and emotional burdens on them. When O'Brien mentions Lavender's death, he mentions how some other soldiers cried not to mourn for a comrade, but because they were ashamed. They felt they were supposed to die to fulfill their duties. With this it is clear to see that the war conditions took serious mental effects on the soldiers.

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Re: The Things They Carried: Reader Response

Post  Atlantisbase on September 15th 2008, 12:39 pm

The soldiers carried all manner of things, many of which they used in the field, guns, genades, ammunition, bandages, rations, radios, tents, medicines, tranquilizers, knives, you name it. Many carried things, which while not essential as a miliary officer, they found they needed to maintain their sanity, their composure, their sense of humainity. Things like bibles, toothbrushes, foot powder,...drugs, few carried underwear. On top of all that all of them carried their emotions, their traumas, their hurts, their scars. They supported each other, carried the burdens which other could not longer bear. The death of Ted Lavender was carried by all of them and it passed among them.

Often times they carried itmes which had and irreplaceable nature about them and which had personal significance such as letters or the hatchet which Kiowa carried. However too often these things gave the soldiers emotional burdens which only added to the punds they had to carry. The letters, pictures, and stone Lt. Cross carried generated the infinitely heavy burdens of guilt and blame over the death of Ted Lavender because these things distracted him. Indeed even when they disposed of such burdens they never really went away, supplies were replaced, emtional burdens passed from person to person but none of it ever truly left them. That's why it was called hell.


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Things they carried

Post  cWest on September 15th 2008, 12:38 pm

The soldiers carried, or "humped", both literal and figurative loads during the Vietnam War according to Tim O'Brien. Some of these physical things included heavy ammo jackets, helmets, ponchos, food, radios, guns, grenades, and individual keepsakes. Some of the emotional loads that these men had to carry were family and loved ones back at home and the fear of seeming cowardly to the other soldiers.
Tim O'Brien's story is about how to tell a lie to portray the truth. For example, O'Brien wrote this fictional story based on the truths of his experiences in the Vietnam War.
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Amelia F. response

Post  Amelia on September 15th 2008, 12:39 pm

They carried everything from possesions that reminded of home to items that they needed to survive. Some of them also carried more than they needed to survive (food, amunition, helmets, ect.) becuase they felt safer with it, even if it weighed a lot. They needed all of these things to keep them well in body and mind, because even if they were physically okay, they might not have been mentally without the things they carried.

Literally,they had everything they carried, including the small reminders of home they brought with them. These small reminders lead then to the things they "humped"' figuratively- their loved ones, their old lives, and the love that could be. One such example of this is when Lieutenant Cross carried the pebble Martha sent him not only as a gift from her, but as Martha herself.

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Candice Robinson

Post  candice R on September 15th 2008, 12:39 pm

Within the novel, each of the different soldiers carry various objects, emotions and so much more. These include things such as letters,neccessities; extra rations; hygenic objects; and many more standard issued military items. However it is clear that O' Brien uses these physical objects to express the different things the soldiers carry with them mentally in their every day lives.

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PBR's

Post  pbr on September 15th 2008, 12:40 pm

In the novel, the soldiers had to hump, or carry, a variety of things. The author shows that the soldiers had to literally carry a number of things such as ammo, guns, letters, etc. Also, they had to carry with them other things that were not actually physically being carried. For example, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross had to carry with him the love for Martha. All of the soldiers had to carry with them the experiences that they went through in Vietnam. The author often changed the point of view of what he meant by carrying by seamlessly changing it from literal to figurative.


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Zoe Johnson Response

Post  zjohnson2692 on September 15th 2008, 12:40 pm

I found it interesting that just about everything they carried physically was either something very practical, and related to the group as soldiers (their ammunition, ponchos, etc.), or something very personal, that said something about them more as full people, for example Lavender's tranquilizers, or Kiowa's illustrated New Testament. These items, especially the more personal ones, I think (especially in the case of Ted Lavender) characterized the men, and gave you some insight into who they were before they came to Vietnam.

Then, of course, there are the emotions they "carried", which are, in a sense, related to the physical items they carried. It is interesting that the emotions were seen almost as a burden, something that weighed them down--much like the physical "things they carried". Jimmy Cross actually blames his love for Martha for Lavender's death towards the end of the chapter and vows to be less emotional, hoping that by replacing his love for the men with stronger leadership he will keep any more of them from dying.

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pendle's reply

Post  pfmh on September 15th 2008, 12:41 pm

Tim O'brian is reffering both literally and figuratively to the objects and the feelings that the soldiers in Vietnam had to "carry". Almost all of the soldiers carry guns, but beyond that, there are objects that the soldiers carry that signify and symbolize thier characters. For example, Ted Lavender carries tranquilizers and dope, which is not only a litteral example of what he is carrying and what he likes to have on him, but also symbolizes his fear of death, and his anxiety in the war. This first chapter is meant to familiarize the readers with the soldiers, and to explain and make clear what each man's personality, as well as likes and dislikes, are.

PS: ("hump" means "carry")

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Post  giulisis on September 15th 2008, 12:43 pm

They Carrie a lot figuratevly and literally.
On their back they carrie amunitions, vitamins,old testament etc.; everything they need to survive in the war.The author uses these objects as symbols to descibe the different characters and explain their feelings. But most of all they carrie emtions, fear and love in their heads which are heavier and influence the way they think and act.They carried the wait to not be to able to respond to these feelings.

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What Did They Carry?

Post  Meghan43 on September 15th 2008, 1:01 pm

The soldiers of Tim O'Briens novel carry many things. The men all seem to carry something to serve as a small reminder of their lives outside of the war. One man carries their New Testament with him while another carries letters and pictures from a woman, another a diary, etc. These men each had something small to just simply keep them sane throughout the war. The men each have to carry the things soldiers have to carry in order to fight and survive. They need their weapons and their ammunition, their clothing and all of those homely things.
Along with their small reminders of home, of life outside of the war these men carried the mental burdens of the war. All of the battles, each death of a soldier and the disturbing images were held on their soldiers. O'Brien mentions that the men had to carry a pride with them, some dignity that the men needed to portray in the battles. The soldiers of the war carried literal and figurative things that shaped their war, their experiences throughout the war.
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Re: The Things They Carried: Reader Response

Post  kconheady on September 15th 2008, 6:25 pm

The soldiers carried what they needed to survive as they moved across Vietnam- weapons, protection, food. These things were necessities. They carried pieces of home with them- trinkets they were given, things to set their minds at ease. With these objects, the audience was able to see into each soldier's mind, to picture their values and their worries. All of these objects had literal weight baring down on their shoulders; however, this was little compared to the other things they carried. They carried the weight of each other; they carried emotional baggage; they carried every single memory of the atrocities they committed; every person whose blood was on their hands; they carried fear. There was no way to measure these things, and no way to relieve the pressure on their shoulders, the dead weight was permanent.

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the things they carry

Post  Giulia on September 19th 2008, 8:33 am

Figuratively and literally they carry a lot.
On their back they carry ammunitions, vitamins, Old Testament etc.; everything they need to survive in the war. The author uses these objects as symbols to describe the different characters and explain their feelings. But most of all they carry emotions, the war atrocities, fear of death, love etc.; these young men are humans like anyone else with the common needs and emotions. They are gruffly thrown into war inexperienced, must learn to rationalize killing and accept their friendís deaths. The only people who they can rely as friends and who share their burns in such terrible atmosphere, are the same people who they see die or become amputated in the worst ways possible in front of their eyes. They are constantly dying as they feel and see death constantly. They are constantly confronting the tension between fantasy and reality. They heads which carry more influence the way they think and act. They carried the wait to not be to able to respond to these feelings.[/quote]

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Elizabeth's response

Post  Elizabeth Gombert on September 20th 2008, 2:43 pm

The soldiers in Tim O'brien's novel trekked through the jungle of Vietnam burdened with the weight of heavy packs and even heavier thoughts. The soldiers carried the obvious necessities for war: guns, amunition, rations, radios, helmets, and grenades. However, the soldiers also carried items not directly related to the war but still equally necessary: letters from loved ones, a copy of the new testament, moccasins, pictures, and drugs. Lastly, the soldiers carried the weight of the fear of being a coward, and all of the emotions (fear, love, shame) and memories that surface when one is so close to death. Tim O'Brien accentuates the weight that the soldiers had to carry by naming the weight of each object and adresses the emtional burden specifically: "the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight."

The choice of the word 'hump' illuminates the position of the soldiers: they were so burdened, physically and emotionally, that they could no longer walk freely, instead, they must hump. O'Brien states: "In its intransitive form, to hump meant to walk, or to march, but it implied burdens far beyond the intransitive." The soldiers had been placed in this foreign country under pressure to sacrifice their lives against their will and all the while not look the coward. The choice of the word, 'hump' draws attention to the number and nature of the items that the soldiers carried and also to the fact that they were burdened with a weight that hindered their freedom to walk, forcing them to trudge onward, indeed, to 'hump.'

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