Let’s face it: most of the books we read for school are dull, boring, and completely monotonous – at least to our young, teenage minds. From the Odyssey to The Old Man and the Sea, I’ve had my fair share of books that I particularly did not care for.
The Things They Carried was not one of them.
I was drawn in from the very first chapter. The struggles and the weight of everything the soldiers are carrying is illustrated very clearly by O’Brien. And the way the book was written was unusual, but fascinating. The main character of TTC is, well, Tim O’Brien. But it’s not Tim O’Brien the author; it’s Tim O’Brien the character. It’s a novel written in the form of a memoir.
So the recurring theme throughout the book is what is true and what isn’t true, and whether it really matters if it is true or not. You never really get a clear sense about what really happened during O’Brien’s time in Vietnam, but you get a plain picture of what happens to every soldier: their pains, worries, endeavors. But the fact that O’Brien included anecdotes made it so much more believable and relatable.
Finally, O’Brien’s character was so relatable, that you could feel every emotion running through his head. My favorite chapter was when O’Brien was wrestling with the options of fleeing the draft or joining the army. His inner conflict was illustrated perfectly, and his conclusion was so brutally honest and frank that it made my heart wrench.
It’s apparent why TTC is regarded as one of the greatest war novels of all time; no war story will ever pull you in or make you really feel as much as Things They Carried.