The Things They Carried is a collection of short stories by Tim O’Brien that was first published in 1990.
Read our full plot summary and analysis of The Things They Carried, chapter by chapter break-downs, and more.
Summary & Analysis
- “The Things They Carried”
- “On the Rainy River”
- “Enemies” & “Friends”
- “How to Tell a True War Story”
- “The Dentist”
- “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”
- “The Man I Killed”
- “Speaking of Courage”
- “In the Field”
- “Good Form”
- “Field Trip”
- “The Ghost Soldiers”
- “Night Life”
- “The Lives of the Dead”
See a complete list of the characters in The Things They Carried and in-depth analyses of Tim O’Brien, Jimmy Cross, Mitchell Sanders, Kiowa, Mary Anne Bell, Norman Bowker, and Elroy Berdahl.
Here's where you'll find analysis of the literary devices in The Things They Carried, from the major themes to motifs, symbols, and more.
Questions & Answers
Explore our selection of frequently asked questions about The Things They Carried and find the answers you need.
- How does Kiowa die?
- What are the things the soldiers carry?
- In the title story of the book, why does Lt. Cross burn Martha’s letters?
- Why aren’t the stories in chronological order?
- Who is Linda?
- Why didn’t Tim O’Brien try to evade the draft by going to Canada?
- Who is Kathleen?
- How do the soldiers cope with death during wartime?
- How does Curt Lemon die?
- What happens to Mary Anne Bell?
- What does Norman Bowker need after he returns home?
- What point does O’Brien make about stories and truth?
- Why does O’Brien become angry at Bobby Jorgenson and eventually want to get revenge on him?
- Where does O’Brien take his daughter, Kathleen, in Vietnam?
- What happens to Rat Kiley?
Find the quotes you need to support your essay, or refresh your memory of The Things They Carried by reading these key quotes.
Test your knowledge of The Things They Carried with quizzes about every section, major characters, themes, symbols, and more.
- Full Book Quiz
- "The Things They Carried"
- "On the Rainy River"
- "Enemies" and "Friends"
- "How to Tell a True War Story"
- "The Dentist"
- "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong"
- "The Man I Killed"
- "Speaking of Courage"
- "In the Field"
- "Good Form"
- "Field Trip"
- "Ghost Soldiers'
- "Night Life"
- "The Lives of the Dead"
Get ready to ace your The Things They Carried paper with our suggested essay topics, helpful essays about historical and literary context, and more.
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