Historical Significance in, The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a book loosely following all mental and physical objects carried by a group of soldiers during the Vietnam War. The soldiers


Soldiers in Vietnam

A main story within the text revolved around the American opinion of the war, more importantly, the opinions of those Americans chosen to fight the war. Many young Americans disliked the war and actively protested against it.

American Protesters

The book discusses the general distaste for the war, for good reason too. Vietnam’s densely forested terrain allowed guerilla warfare from the Vietnamese. This tactic proved fruitful against the young American company men, whom were usually only 19. Vietnam was their first exposure to true battle, and it showed. The young soldiers were largely unable to fully complete their duties as many were so young. The book references lieutenant Jimmy Cross being promoted to lead a company of men, even though he was largely inexperienced in command. This was cause for several mental errors which ended in the loss of some of his men.


Because the war was so unpopular, the government poured millions of dollars into troop hospitality while in Vietnam. Helicopters flew in daily to bring in more supplies. The soldiers ate and drank well, having a bottomless pit of supplies which was added to everyday. This government strategy for comfortable war worked to pacify the G.I.s against resisting the war. The government also used this wealth of resources to bomb the Vietnamese people at will. With no shortage of firepower, entire regions were decimated by bombings.