In Tim O"brien's short story, "The Things They Carried," he describes a certain platoon humping through the jungle of Vietnam. He portrays the setting and characters by describing the varies items each man would carry. The things each soldier would carry were both tangible and intangible items. Each soldier carried their own burdens. They all carried the basic essentials for survival of war and the things that would make living possible by carrying the bare minimum of what they absolutely had to have. These were the items that were tangible. But the soldiers also carried other heavy burdens upon their shoulders. They carried heavy loads of memories, fears, desires, and other heavy emotions. These were the items that were intangible. Items like these were just as heavy as their backpacks and ammo. Items like these were harder to rid off compared to the tangibles. Items like these were what drove the story to be a great one.
Throughout the story, O"Brien weaves in and out of narrative passage to straight forward descriptions of the items that the soldiers would carry. By doing this, O"Brien brings more focus to a separation between the tangibles and intangibles. During the descriptive parts, O"Brien is very precise in his descriptions. He almost seems to be merely filing what each man would carry. In one segment of the story, it reads, "As a first lieutenant and platoon leader, Jimmy Cross carried a compass, maps, code books, binoculars, and a .45 caliber pistol that weighed 2.9 pounds fully loaded." In these segments, O"Brien gives only simple descriptions and the writing is void of any emotion or sentiment. When reading about the intangibles the men carried, however, the writing becomes more in tune with the feelings of the soldiers. An example of this writing is found when the main character thinks about the women he was after: "Jimmy Cross humped his love for Martha up the hills and through the swamps Lieutenant Cross remembered touching [her] left knee.