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Eng 2030 - Reader Response to "the Things They Carried"

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Jessika Tate

English 2030

Professor Steve Gutierrez

12 April 2011

Reader Response to "The Things They Carried"

Tim O'Brien's novel The Things They Carried is one of my favorite reads. While reading the excerpt from the text it brought me right back to when I first read the whole novel. Tim O'Brien has a way of putting the reader directly in the stories that he tells in "The Things They Carried". When reading the story about Jimmy and Martha, I think of my friend Blaine who is in the army, and who was sent to Afghanistan about a year or so back. I would send him letters often and he had at least one photo of me. We were just friends, but I know that he wanted more than just friendship. Jimmy Cross reminds me a lot of my friend. His struggles are hand in hand with ones that Blaine and many others face when in war. When reading about all they had to carry it was hard to imagine all the physical burdens that the people in war have to deal with. Not only physical, but also the emotional, and mental burdens that they have must be difficult to deal with.

My friend would send me letters and some of the descriptions and stories he told about Afghanistan would give me nightmares. In one of his letters he listed all the weaponry and contents that he had with him at all times. The list was much like the one in this passage. It went on for quite a few pages. Mostly he would talk about his buddies and how close they became and how they were all each other had.

The responsibility that Jimmy Cross carries changes him throughout the novel. He seems to be a hopeless romantic in the beginning of the passage. However, by the end of the passage he seems to become more "hard" so to speak, not so sentimental, he tries to play by the books and disconnect from feelings.

The way that O'Brien wrote this, it puts you right in the middle of the novel. The dialogue is so "real" when reading it the characters jump out of the novel. The descriptions are so detailed throughout the passage that you can see the sights, smell the stenches, feel the weather and conditions of the land, and taste any of the tastes that may be described in the passage.

I always find the description of the Toe Poppers and Bouncing Betties to be amusing. Maybe its Tim O'Brien's way of lightening the tone of the story, and if that's the case then it works because it always makes me giggle a little inside when I read those.

The part where Ted Lavender is shot is so "in your face" so to speak. It is just thrown out there, right after a joyous event when Strunk crawls out of the tunnel. "...Just boom, then down..." (598) comes to mind when I read that passage.

I asked my friend

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