Chapter 19, Field Trip Notes from The Things They Carried

Tim O'Brien
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The Things They Carried Chapter 19, Field Trip

A few months after writing the chapter "In the Field," Tim took his daughter Kathleen to the field where Kiowa died. It looks smaller and peaceful. Kathleen doesn't understand why they are there--she's only ten--but she generally keeps quiet. She asks him why the war was fought, and why he had to fight in it, and he has no answers. She gets frustrated, and thinks he is weird because he can't forget something that happened so long ago. Though it is never said directly, it seems that Tim is the young soldier who lost his girlfriend's picture in the field. He is the one who let Kiowa die because he couldn't stand the smell. He tells Kathleen almost nothing about why they are there. He quietly takes Kiowa's moccasins out of a bundle and puts them under the mud, trying to find the place where his body was found. He slides into the muck as Kathleen watches in confusion and disgust. He wants to say something profound but can't think of anything. Tim sees an old Vietnamese farmer watching him intently. The man raises his shovel fiercely, then continues to work in the field. Kathleen asks if the man is angry with Tim, but he tells her that that's all over.

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