Often times in literature authors use specific items to further the understanding of the key characters. In "The Things They Carried", Tim O"Brien wrote about the feelings and experiences of young soldiers in the Vietnam War. As he tells the story, he describes the tangible and intangible items that the soldiers chose to load their packs and hearts with. These include the things such as grenades and mosquito nets, yet also the thoughts of family and loved ones. The tangible items clue the reader into the physical and mental nature of the individual. The intangible emotions show his true heart and soul. In "The Things They Carried", Tim O"Brien uses the description of the items the soldiers bring with them to provide better characterization for each man and show the true weight of emotions.
The first types of items that the soldiers carry are those of a physical nature. These tangibles greatly weigh down the soldiers, which in turn makes the Vietnam War even more difficult physically to endure. O"Brien describes the physical items with simple, un-emotional, descriptive adjectives. For example, the weight of specific items to the ounce is listed out in order to give the reader a mental picture of the weight. By giving the reader a blunt yet specific description, the reader is able to understand that these items only affected the soldiers physically. The items" damage could be only .
temporary. If they are described with more meaning, these items would take over some of the importance emphasized on the emotional burdens. The other way he uses the physical burdens are to give better descriptions of the men themselves. Each man decides what to bring based on his individual needs. One character, Henry Dobbins fills his pack with extra rations, which gives the reader clues into the fact that he encompasses .
a large physical appearance. Because he carries his girlfriend's pantyhose to bring good fortune, the reader is clued into his superstitious nature.