Por Bryan Jiménez Álvarez – Education career student

How a soldier will survive might depend on what he carries when he goes to a war. There is a tiny line between life and death, and soldiers know it. In the war, that line is lighter than ever. Often, what a soldier carries with him might help him to go back home once the mission is done. However, a soldier is a human being who carries his memories, ghosts, amulets, and things that make him remember that there is another life waiting for him, but will the soldier get the life back once the war is over?

‘The Things They Carried’ is a fascinating book. It has small, but shocking stories that create a novel. Tim O’Brien is a master when it comes to writing war novels. In this particular book, he does not just build a story, but he also rebuilds himself. O´Brien was a soldier in the Vietnam War; he is able to tell his experiences in war with different characters and be able to channel those emotions for which the human being is poorly prepared.

Writing helps him to survive after the war, a war that changed his life. Adapting himself to have a “normal life” is not a choice when the word “normal” lose its meaning. But as we all know, every war is cruel, bloody, ruthless, and capable of crushing even the coldest feeling of a soldier. A war changes the life of soldiers who most of them are not able to get their life back and most of them think that they do not fit in daily routines that human beings usually do. Benjamin Sledge is a veteran soldier who shared his experience in a blog and affirmed that:
(…) some days I miss being at war. The depth of the relationships you’ve developed, and the conditions you endured — like bloodshed — are baffling concepts for a civilian. For the veteran, it’s like trying to explain string theory to a 10-year-old. (…) being in an intense environment where adrenaline is pumping and bonds are forged makes working a cubicle job feel like a never-ending screening of Office Space. You’ll long wonder about the men and women in leadership at your office and whether they care about your well-being. That’s not something you have to worry about when the bullets are flying (Sledge, 2019, par, 24).

Tim O’Brien depicts with exquisite delicacy what he lived and felt during that war. They are his memories and the memories of those soldiers who were there, too. Reality or fiction, it does not matter because the emotions that he wants to transmit in his book: fear, shame, cowardice, love, cruelty, friendship, betrayal, and proud; those are real ones. Those are emotions that the reader might expect to feel while he or she is reading this amazing book.

Through this book, the reader will be able to find an original, honest, and intense book. Tim O’Brien made a piece of art through this book and he will take the reader to feel the emotions that he felt during the Vietnam War. The reader will feel the agony of seeing a soldier dying. The reader will feel the agony of imagining a soldier friend dying slowly after a gunshot and telling anecdotes before giving a last breath. He or she will feel the remorse of having killed a young enemy and having to think that the soldier did what he had to do; readers will understand that a soldier carries not only weapons, but emotions they will never forget.


MOXIE es el Canal de ULACIT (www.ulacit.ac.cr), producido por y para los estudiantes universitarios, en alianza con el medio periodístico independiente Delfino.cr, con el propósito de brindarles un espacio para generar y difundir sus ideas.  Se llama Moxie - que en inglés urbano significa tener la capacidad de enfrentar las dificultades con inteligencia, audacia y valentía - en honor a nuestros alumnos, cuyo “moxie” los caracteriza.

Bibliographic references: