In Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, there was a definite and obvious emphasis on the word "carry-. However, the theme behind the word "carry- was the idea of weight "physical and emotional. Also, there was symbolism in the jumbo jet, in that the men believed they could be weightless and free.
The most obvious theme of carrying was developed by the weight of the men's supplies. This was a physical weight that literally exhausted the men in the story. During the story these men carried pounds and pounds of their supplies and necessities which weighed them down. All of the men had responsibilities of carrying supplies for the troop. However, their personal items, which were considered necessities, differed: Lavender carried his dope, Bowker his diary, Kiley his comic books, Kiowa his Bible, and Lt. Cross his pictures and letters from Martha (281). They strongly relied on their possessions for comfort and the much needed feeling of safety; however, their comfort items actually weighed them down more. The items gave the men feelings of home and safety which in return made them focus less on their missions at hand. In Martin Naparsteck's interview with O'Brien, O'Brien states "my personal feeling is that it's [war] pretty ugly. I was in danger, and my perception never let me see any beauty. All I felt was fear- (9). Fear was what the men were trying to escape by having their personal items. Another example of physical weight was Ted Lavender; fear inspired, he carried thirty-four rounds of ammunition when he was shot. The safety supplies made the man dead weight, and when he was shot, "just boom, then down- (283). O'Brien placed much emphasis on the dead weight issue by mentioning it several times.
In The Things They Carried, the men also dealt with numerous different emotions brought on by war. They carried these emotions just as they carried their supplies; however, they could not put down the emotions of the war as they could the supplies.