The Things They Carried Guilt Theme

The Things They Carried Guilt Theme
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  • The reactions that the soldiers displayed were really just survival instincts. They used these survival instincts to hide the traits they would feel guilty and ashamed of showing, like crying for themselves or begging for their lives. Also, if one soldier is taken over by fear, all of them will follow because that is what unites them.
  • I promised I would not let myself die!
  • I can't die, I promised my family!
  • Make it stop!!!!
  • Martha's letters can be burned, but my guilt about this death cannot be!
  • You would have been alive if I didn't get distracted by Martha! This is all my fault!
  • Jimmy Cross feels very guilty about the death of Ted Lavender. This is because he is haunted by the fact that if he was not distracted by his thoughts about Martha, he would have been able to save Ted from being killed.
  • The traumatic memories of the war never stop replaying in O’brien’s head. Even though he is no longer physically fighting in the war, he is mentally fighting it because he cannot escape the disturbing thoughts. Due to this, he never really sees the end of war, therefore he never sees the end of guilt and trauma.
  • I feel trapped by my disturbing memories of all of the horrible things I've done in the war, and although I am not at risk for physical harm anymore, I am currently being mentally harmed!
  • O'Brein believed he would have been more heroic if he just followed through with his plan for escaping the war. 
  • I feel so guilty for being considered a "hero"! I am only going to fight in the war because I do not want people to think I am a coward. My intention is solely focused on my own self-preservation. 
  • Dave Jensen felt guilty for not killing Lee Strunk and putting him out of his misery. Jensen would probably have felt guilty if he killed Strunk for their original agreement, but not killing his friend made him feel guilty as well. 
  • Thank goodness Lee Shrunk has passed away! I was feeling very guilty that I did not put him out of his misery when I had the chance to.
  • The guilt that O’Brien receives from killing the man on the trail is what urges him to write war stories. He is attempting to bring the man back to life through his stories about him which include his “history” and even a wife. 
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