"The Things they carried-, the renowned author, Tim O'Brien, uses several literary devices to show the spiritual burden on the soldiers in the Vietnam War, by contrasting this burden with the actual physical load they have to carry. This burden has many aspects, and includes fear as the most important factor. Fear from death in the jungle, fear for the ones at home, and fear that the ones at home might forget them. The conclusion from the story is that the spiritual burden is actually much heavier than the physical, because there is no efficient way of dealing with the intangible evil that resides in the soul of the soldiers. The men carry a wide variety of objects, many of them useless, depending on their nature just to cope with the stress of the war. Jim Cross, the platoon leader carried photos and letters from a girl back in America, Martha. Dave Jensen carried a toothbrush and Rat Kiley carried comic books. All of these loads were reminders of the homeland and in a way they were the objects weakening them even though their weapons weighed a lot more, because their mind couldn't focus on the war that was going on. They were constantly trying to distract themselves from the war.
The author uses the respective weights of the weapons to show the contrast between physical and spiritual load. In every paragraph, O'Brien tells us the weight of every weapon and object with a painful precision. However, he never talks about what the objects weighed mentally, especially those objects, which are useless in the fighting. We know that "the letters from Martha, Jimmy Cross's love, weighed 10 ounces- (2), but we don't know how much Martha meant for Jimmy Cross, and even Cross doesn't even know until Ted Lavender gets shot, and Jimmy Cross has an epiphany, a revelation and realizes that the only way to deal with the war is to get rid of the objects relating him to home. By getting rid of them, he can finally concentrate on the war and be an efficient platoon leader.