Symbolism in stories is dependent on how the author writes, the title, and the characters. Titles in literature are very important to the symbolism of a story an example of this is Tim O"Brien's "The Things They Carried". As the story goes on it shows not only the literal meaning of what they carried but also symbolically the burdens that they had mentally.
In the literal sense O"Brien talks about what different members of a platoon in Vietnam carried. This helps him to move to a more symbolic sense at the end of the story. He starts by talking about necessities and slowly moves on to what they carried to remind them that there was a world out side of the war. "Among the necessities or near necessities were p-38 can openers, pocket knifes, heat tabs, wrist watches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water." But as the story moves on it shows other things that were considered necessities to them even though to some one else they might seem a luxury. Such as Kiowa carrying his grandfather's hatchet. These are obviously not necessities to others but were one for them. In the story the theme of weight kept coming up. Literally he meant the weight of each weapon, ration, and body armor, ECT "it was SOP for each man to carry a steel-centered, nylon-covered flak jacket, which weight 6.7 pounds- Weight is used in this story to help show the symbolic meaning of weight later on in the story. "What they carried varied by mission." Knowing the different dangers throughout the land also added to their burden, making them carry even more such as mosquito netting, machetes, mine detectors, and even things that didn't have much use such as Kiowa carrying the New Testament and Dave Jensen carrying his night-sight vitamins. All of "The Things They Carried" helped to add to the stress of the war and also help to quell it, they carried what they needed.