The Things They Carried Themes

Tim O'Brien
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War and Love

Readers might expect the story to articulate the tension between war and peace, but O'Brien's point in this story and in his other writings is that the real connection is between war and love. Lt. Cross believes, for example, that because he loves Martha, he does not fulfill his duty toward his men. He literally thinks that because he chose love over war, Ted Lavender is dead. O'Brien believes, however, that love comes with the territory of war. In an article for the New York Times Magazine in 1994 he explains: "Intimacy with death carries with it a corresponding new intimacy with life. Jokes are funnier, green is greener. You love the musty morning air. You love the miracle of your own enduring capacity for love."

According to O'Brien, however, love is also what drove him to Vietnam. In the same article he confesses: "I have done...

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This section contains 819 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Things They Carried Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Things They Carried from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.