Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Things, like a walk in the park." Song lyrics

This story brought to mind Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," due to the mixture of fiction and realism.

"The Things They Carried," tells of a platoon of soldiers and their experiences in Vietnam. It gives an interesting insight into the make-up of soldiers on active duty and serves as a comparison to today's army fighting in Afghanistan.

In the story, we learn what various soldiers carry in the field. Not only do they carry the usual equipment with which to fight the enemy but they are their own personal items and this is what makes them interesting. One man carried a sewing kit, another had a New Testament, still another carried Dr. Scholl's foot powder, men carried Malaria tablets and Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, the central figure in the story, carried the letters from his love, Martha, a college student back at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. In a sad manner, we also discover that Jimmy was madly in love with Martha but that she didn't share his love and felt that their relationship was more like good friends.

The author also provides a picture of the activities the soldiers took part in when not in the field. We learn of Kiowa teaching a rain dance to Rat Kelly and another soldier adopting a puppy. This made the soldiers more real.

I enjoyed the book, which is made up of linked stories. However, it is more like a journal of Tim O'Brien's Vietnam experience. To me, it was more like a lesson in history than a novel and what appealed to me was the uniqueness and descriptions of the men who are my age and what they went through in the war.


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