The protagonist, who is named Tim O’Brien, begins by using describing an occasion that came about within the center of his Vietnam revel in. “The matters They Carried” catalogs the range of factors his fellow infantrymen in the Alpha employer delivered on their missions. numerous of these things are intangible, such as guilt and worry, while others are precise physical objects, consisting of matches, morphine, M-sixteen rifles, and M&M’s sweet.
At some point of the gathering, the identical characters reappear in various stories. the first member of the Alpha agency to die is Ted Lavender, a “grunt,” or low-rating soldier, who offers with his tension approximately the war by taking tranquilizers and smoking marijuana. Lavender is shot in the head on his manner returned from going to the bathroom, and his advanced, Lieutenant Jimmy go, blames himself for the tragedy. while Lavender is shot, move is distracting himself with mind of Martha, a college crush. it is revealed in “Love” that cross’s emotions for Martha, whom he dated as soon as earlier than leaving for Vietnam, were never reciprocated, and that even 20 years after the conflict, his guilt over Lavender’s demise remains.
In “at the rainy River,” the narrator, O’Brien, explains the collection of occasions that led him to Vietnam in the first location. He receives his draft be aware in June of 1968, and his emotions of misunderstanding drive him north to the Canadian border, which he contemplates crossing in order that he's going to not be compelled to fight in a warfare wherein he doesn’t consider. Sitting in a rowboat with the proprietor of the tip top inn, in which he stays, O’Brien decides that his guilt about avoiding the conflict and worry of disappointing his family are more crucial than his political convictions. He soon leaves, going first returned domestic to Worthington, Minnesota and later to Vietnam.
Further to Ted Lavender, a few different individuals of the Alpha enterprise are killed during their mission overseas, consisting of Curt Lemon, who's killed whilst he steps on a rigged mortar round. even though O’Brien is not near Lemon, in “The Dentist,” he tells a tale of ways Lemon, who faints earlier than a recurring checkup with an military-issued dentist, tries to store face by means of insisting that a perfectly suitable teeth be pulled. Lee Strunk, another member of the agency, dies from injuries he sustains through stepping on a landmine. In “friends,” O’Brien remembers that earlier than Strunk changed into fatally hurt, Strunk and Dave Jensen had made a % that if either man had been irreparably harmed, the alternative guy might see that he turned into speedy killed. but, whilst Strunk is virtually harm, he begs Jensen to spare him, and Jensen complies. rather than being dissatisfied by means of the news of his pal’s swift dying en route to remedy, Jensen is relieved.
The loss of life that gets the maximum attention inside the things They Carried is that of Kiowa, a far-cherished member of the Alpha organisation and one among O’Brien’s closest buddies. In “talking of courage,” the story of Kiowa’s loss of life is relayed on reflection via the memory of Norman Bowker, years after the warfare. As Bowker drives around a lake in his Iowa place of birth, he thinks that he didn't keep Kiowa, who become killed while a mortar round hit and triggered him to sink headfirst into a marshy field. O’Brien realizes that he has dealt with his guilt over Kiowa’s death otherwise than Norman Bowker in “Notes.” simply before the stop of the war, O’Brien gets an extended letter from Bowker that asserts he hasn’t determined a manner to make lifestyles significant after the conflict. O’Brien resolves to inform Bowker’s story, and the tale of Kiowa’s dying, that allows you to negotiate his personal emotions of guilt and hollowness.
Like “Love” and “Notes,” several of O’Brien’s testimonies are instructed from a angle twenty years after the Vietnam struggle, whilst he is a 40-three-year-vintage creator dwelling in Massachusetts. exposure to the guilt of antique buddies like Jimmy pass and Norman Bowker prompts him to put in writing tales so that it will understand what they had been going via. however tales, “the man I Killed” and “Ambush,” are written in order that O’Brien can confront his very own guilt over killing a person with a grenade out of doors the village of My Khe. In “the person I Killed,” O’Brien imagines the lifestyles of his victim, from his formative years to the way matters could have turned out for him had O’Brien now not noticed him on a course and thrown a grenade at his toes. In “Ambush,” O’Brien imagines how he might relay the story of the man he killed to his 9-year-antique daughter, Kathleen. on this 2d tale, O’Brien affords greater information of the actual killing—such as the sound of the grenade and his own emotions—and explains that even well after the reality, he hasn’t completed finding out the revel in.
Inside the final tale, “The Lives of the useless,” O’Brien offers some other twist to his contention that testimonies have the power to save human beings. within the tales of Curt Lemon and Kiowa, O’Brien explains that his imagination allowed him to grapple efficaciously together with his guilt and confusion over the demise of his fourth-grade first love, Linda.