Often times in literature, an author will focus on a seemingly insignificant aspect of a character and their journey rather than the prime aspect which weighs heavier throughout the text. They're are many difficulties that men in the Vietnam War face, but not only does it exhaust ones physical state, but also it mentally affects these men. In Tim O'Brien's short story entitled "The Things They Carried", the setting and characters are used to acknowledge the theme that the Vietnam War takes a toll on ones physical and emotional state. In the story, each man has a different object that they carry that affects their intellectual view on the war. Throughout the story, the author gives us examples of what the land was like, the actual things they carried, and the things each one needed to keep them sane. In the end, we see that each of these items has a different meaning to each soldier that goes along with their mental state. "The soldiers also carry stories: stories that connect the past to the future (Calloway).".
The setting of the story "The Things They Carried", is one of the elements that prove that the Vietnam War can be mentally challenging. The story takes place during the Vietnam War in the late 1860's (O'Brien 637). Throughout most of the novel, the setting of the story is in the wasteland of Vietnam. The challenging terrain of the Vietnam War is just one of the many difficulties they face. Because of the rough terrain, they had to wear jungle boots that weighed close to two pounds. Many times, to keep out of sight of the opposing side, the men would walk in ditches that collected water. This resulted in some of the men carrying foot powder to keep them from getting trench foot (O'Brien 638). A seasonal prevailing wind, bringing in rain, called a monsoon also contributed to the difficulties the men faced. Because the nights were cold, and because the monsoons were wet, each carried a green plastic poncho that could be used as a raincoat or ground sheet or makeshift tent (O'Brien 638).