The things they carried
In the novel, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, the main character, also named Tim O'Brien (however not the author himself) is a soldier in Vietnam. The novel itself is overall somewhat disjointed as it is closer to a collection of stories that are interconnected than one longer, fluent story. However, the book begins by narrating how what each soldier carried, and how one of the soldiers, by the name of Ted Lavender, was killed by a bullet through his head. The leader of the platoon, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, blamed himself because during this time he was romanticizing about a girl back home named Martha. The following scene contains several shorter stories depicting brief scenes that appeared throughout the war, transitioning directly into the story of how the main character, Tim O'Brien was drafted and how he wanted to flee to Canada, but couldn't. Following this there is a longer story talking about the relationship between two of the platoon members, Lee Strunk and Dave Jensen. While initially they fight over a missing jackknife, they later become friends and make a pact so that if either of them received a "wheelchair wound" the other would kill them. This however, was avoided when Lee Strunk stepped on a landmine and later died in a hospital. Following this the narration talks about how to tell a true war story, choosing a scene where Curt Lemon, a close friend of the platoon's medic, Rat Kiley, is killed. Then the book tells a story of how Rat used to be stationed in a compound where another medic named Mark Fossie brought in his girlfriend, who was then changed into a completely different person by the war. Later, the narration describes Tim O'Brien's loss of innocence following a brief scene where he kills a person, but this is told from two different perspectives, one where it is a narrative and talks about the person, the other where the person is just an obstacle; something to get out of the way. The book then tells the story of another soldier named Norman Bowker, a close friend of Kiowa, one of the platoon members, who was killed in a field. Norman was severely damaged emotionally following the war, and shortly after writing a letter to Tim O'Brien, committed suicide. The story jumps forward then to the present when the narrator returns to Vietnam, in the place where Kiowa died, to cope with the trauma that he received and set things to rest. The novel closes with a short chapter about how storytelling helped to keep people alive in your mind.