Tim O’Brien is the author of a fascinating story “The Things They Carried”. The story is about the soldiers and the environment that was around them. An interesting fact is that the plot events intercross with the description of the things which the characters held in their rucksacks. The information about their personal things they carried has two goals; the first one is informative and the second one is metaphorical.
First of all, the author describes the necessary things such as water canteens, tablets, can openers, knives, matches, lighters and other. This set was universal for each soldier and was “largely determined by necessity” (O’Brien, 2009). Tim O’Brien mentions the weights of the soldier’s rucksacks. It was important that the general weight is not too heavy because they had to move relatively quickly. Moreover, the overweight backpacks would make the soldiers tired faster. This is the informational side. On the other hand, this enumeration serves to show the reader that they obviously had everything for surviving. These soldiers are the common people who wanted to live no matter what their involvement in the fighting actions was.
Each soldier had in his rucksack something special for him. For example, the main character, first lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried the letters from Martha, the woman he loved. Even though, he realized that this feeling is not shared, he had hope. He also had two pictures of her. It is the symbol of the civil life outside the war. He had the same dreams as if he was at home. The other soldiers carried “extra ration” (O’Brien, 2009), toothbrush and soap, tranquilizers and other things depending on their personal needs. All of these show the reader that the soldiers are not the iron men. They have their weak spots as all of us do. Each thing carried characterises the different person and needs.
The author describes each thing and mentions the weight. Such accuracy means that the actual things they carried symbolize abstraction. In fact, they carried love, health, and good mood: everything they needed to survive. In the end, first lieutenant Cross understood that the things they carried were inside. As Martha wrote in each letter “Jimmy, take care of yourself” (O’Brien, 2009), she meant not only to survive physically, but also mentally. The things they should have carried represent the awaited attitude to the events: only duty and necessity. The things they carried over show the real heart of the matter.