The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried

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  • Man vs. Man
  • Tim O’Brien was hiding in thick brush when an enemy soldier walked through his territory. Instinctively he threw a grenade at him, killing the man. Afterwards he goes up to the man and feels terrible for killing him. He thinks of the man as a mathematician and his life and family that he took from him. Although this battle was not physical, the event shows how in war, men are constantly battling against each other.
  • When a dentist came in and did a routine exam on soldier’s teeth, Curt Lemon fainted before the dentist even touched him. Worried that it would ruin his reputation with the other soldiers, Lemon goes to the dentist in the middle of the night and insists on pulling a perfectly healthy tooth. Though Lemon was deathly afraid, he talked himself into going and facing his fears so that he wouldn’t be viewed as a coward.
  • Man vs. Self
  • After receiving his draft letter, O’Brien thinks about fleeing to Canada to avoid the war. He travels to Michigan where he meets a guy who takes him on a boat for him to face the reality if he was really going to do it. During that time, he has a conflict within himself because he feels as if he is too good to be fighting in the war, and he shouldn’t be fighting because he doesn’t believe in it.
  • Man vs. Self
  • When Rat Kiley’s good friend, Curt Lemon, dies while playing catch with a smoke grenade he takes his frustration out on a water buffalo. While he is crying, he shoots a water buffalo aiming to hurt rather than kill it. Kiley is so frustrated about Lemon’s death and that no one back home would recognize Lemon’s bravery, that the only way to deal with his emotions was to hurt a helpless animal.
  • Man vs. Self
  • When O’Brien receives his draft notice in the mail, a wave of emotions run through his mind. He questions whether he should flee the country, or be brave and fight in the war. Worried about what society will think of him if he weren’t to fight in the war, O’Brien battles the views of society and goes to war.
  • Man vs. Society
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