In the short story, "The Things They Carried," Tim O"Brien writes about the soldiers of Vietnam and the self versus war or nature that all of them had to carry with them. In this story, O"Brien writes about the intangible things that the soldiers carry with them such as memories and fears and also the actual material things that they carried. However, the weight of these intangible things had a much heavier load than the real material things. The intangible things are not easily thrown away but are rather endured over a long period of time. .
When the soldiers are in the jungle, every one of them is able to relate to each other and understand what they are all going through. The fear of death and dying that all of the soldiers have to carry is a piece of baggage that is constantly running through the minds of all of them. The jungle is a place where they are all stuck in and it kind of serves as a prison to them with no way to escape it.
The soldiers all want to escape the reality of what is going on around them and the protagonist in the story, Lt. Jimmy Cross, is a good example. Fantasy represents setting through the love letters that Jimmy Cross carries. Also, the stone that he carries around in his mouth is a sign of contact with others which is also another example of setting. Also, everything that the men carried showed what kind of person that they were. The things that they carried defined what kind of person that they were as well as their status or position in the army. These material things that they carried showed the reality of the war. .
Considering that the setting takes place in Vietnam and they are fighting a war, just the atmosphere alone gives the reader an idea of what the soldiers had to experience. When the reader thinks about the Vietnam War, he or she would think of death and destruction and all the terrible things that happen in a war. The characters in this story have to deal with it and O"Brien shows the many different ways that they do deal with death and killing.