Name __________________________________________ Date ____ Test Date ____

Name __________________________________________
Date ____
Test Date ____
Review for The Things They Carried Test
In preparation for your test on the novel, review the following:
Tim O’Brien
Henry Dobbins
Azar—cruel, sadistic
Mitchell Sanders
Ted Lavender
Mary Anne
Soldier Tim killed
Courage/lacking courage (Can you think of specific examples?)
Purpose of storytelling
Story Truth/Happening Truth
Purpose of writing/telling stories
“The Things They Carried” (consider the literal meaning and the larger metaphor of carrying)
What the men carried:
Jimmy Cross—picture of Martha
Ted Lavender—Tranquilizers
Henry Dobbins—pantyhose around his neck as a good luck charm to stay safe
Norman Bowker carried the emotional baggage of wanting war medals
Literally---carrying supplies
Emotionally—carried fear, principles
Chapters to review:
“On the Rainy
Characters Plot Details
and their
Narrator— Tim must make a decision after receiving
his draft notice—should he go to Canada
or stay in the US and go to war. He stays
at a lodge with Elroy Berdahl, an older
man, who pays him for help around the
lodge. Elroy feeds him, brings him to the
boarder, allows Tim to make his own
decision whether to go to war or not.
Elroy doesn’t judge Tim. In the end,
Tim DOES NOT go to Canada. He decides
to go to war rather than be criticized.
Courage as a Theme
“I was a coward, I went
to war.”
Tim—being courageous
would have been to act
on his convictions. He
is shamed into going
into war because he
doesn’t want to feel the
criticism of the people
back home.
Acting on societal
“How to Tell a
True War Story”
Men go into the jungle and hear things.
Because they have to remain silent, their
minds get carried away. This story can
only be told by using exaggeration—it
makes the psychological tension of being
at war real. Men hear violins, a cocktail
party, chamber orchestras, a rock band. In
order to make the noise stop they throw
bombs. When they come back to camp,
they refuse to tell the Colonel why they
bombed and used so much fire power.
Instead of answering him, they just walked
away without saying anything. SOME
things you can’t explain—you just have to
be there!
Exaggeration—it makes
the psychological
tension of being at war
War can’t be explained
Experience can’t be
“Sweetheart of
the Song of Tra
“The Man I Killed”
“Good Form”
Mark Fossie brings his girlfriend Mary
Anne to war. She starts off being
feminine, light hearted—wears culottes.
Then she cuts her hair, assists in
operations, goes on ambush with the
Green Berets. She changes into a savage.
Her eyes change blue to green. She wears
a human tongue necklace, she had a den
with a decayed head of a leopard, stacks of
bones, a poster that says “Assemble your
own Gook! Free Sample Kit” next to strips
of yellow-brown skin. She becomes more
primitive, part of the jungle.
Effects of war
--it changes not only the
young men, but Mary
Anne, she is capable of
the duties of war
--it is just as disturbing
to see Mary Anne
become a cold blooded
killer as it is the young
male soldiers
--everyone has the
potential for evil/to kill
as a member of the
Green Berets
--gender stereotypes of
women (looking
pretty/treated as a
sexual object vs.
becoming savage and
brutal, assisting with
medical help, handling a
gun, capabilities of
women in war)
Tim killed a 19-year-old Vietnamese soldier Guilt
-Vietnamese soldier felt forced into going
to war (much like Tim, he didn’t want to
feel shame from his family, didn’t really
-Tim can’t stop staring
want to go to war).
at the dead VC soldier
--VC soldier had a girlfriend, wanted to be
a math teacher
Kiowa asks Tim to speak, but he can’t. He
is too shocked.
Story Truth—Tim couldn’t possibly stare at
the body for 45 minutes. In the story he
can accept responsibility for the death. He
has been haunted by it for 20 years.
43, claims everything in his story is
invented—he admits to being a foot
soldier, and 20 years later is still filled with
-watched a man die on a trail near the
village of My Khe—felt guilty, but even
that story is made up, Tim’s daughter
Kathleen asks if he ever killed anyone—he
can say yes or no
Story Truth
Happening Truth
Story Truth = can make
things present and help
people take
Happening Truth = just
telling what happened,
but not necessarily
taking responsibility.
“Ghost Soldiers”
Characters Plot Details
and their
Tim gets shot 2x
Bobby Jorgensen gets to Tim too late and
doesn’t treat him for shock.
how he
Tim wants revenge against Bobby. He
creates a way to scare Bobby by making
noises in the brush.
Azar helps him. (We know Azar takes
pleasure in evil activities.)
*Change in Tim—we
see him become more
evil due to the effects of
being at war.
*Change in Tim—no longer the sweet boy
from Minnesota
Tim and Jorgensen make up at the end.
Tim jokes that they should kill Azar.
“The Lives of the
List 2 Main Events:
Stories help to bring back lives. The
stories show the value of life—even “The
Man I Killed”
He believes stories can save people.
Stories save the soul.
connect this to “How
to Tell a True War
Story” the story
needs to get to the
emotional truth, gut
feeling, emotional
Examine the metaphor
at the end:
Metaphor: “I’m not
dead. But when I am,
it’s like…I don’t know, I
guess it’s like being
inside a book that
nobody’s reading”
(232). Being alive is
being remembered.
This is an appropriate
metaphor for this book.
It brings back the
stories of Kiowa, Ted
Lavender, Curt Lemon,
Linda, VC soldiers,
Norman Bowker.
“The Things They
--Ted Lavender dies
--soldiers trash the villiage out of anger
--Cross burns photos of Martha since he
accepts blame for Lavender’s death (he
was distracted with Martha and looking at
her photo)
--Cross carries a picture
of Martha
--Ted Lavender got shot
in the head –
emphasizes the impact
of the death on the
soldiers and Jimmy
What the men carried:
Cross—pictures of
Ted Lavender—
fear, principles
These soldiers carry (or hump) their homes on their backs.
Consider the literal things they carry and the emotional things they carry.
Each man also carries a green plastic poncho (for rain, ground covering, or to cover dead
bodies), grenades, ammunition, large compress bandages, items under SOP (Standard
Operating Procedures), flak jacket and ghosts.
Henry Dobbins—big man, carries extra food (What’s important to him? Food!), carries a large
amount of ammunition and weaponry. He wears his girlfriends’ pantyhose around his neck for
comfort, insecticide
Dave Jensen—clean man, carries dental floss, socks, vitamins high in carotene (will help night
eyesight), takes precaution against trench foot , empty sandbags, rabbit’s foot.
Ted Lavender—scared, carries tranquilizers, drugs (dope) perhaps to cope with his fear. When
he is shot dead, he falls down immediately—it isn’t like in the movies. (He is killed coming back
from urinating.) He is covered with the green poncho. “He was dead weight” (7). Soldiers
smoked his dope after his death and burned down the village of Than Khe.
Norman Bowker—carried a diary, a boy’s thumb
Mitchell Sanders—carried condoms, the 26 pound radio (he’s the RTO—Radio Transmission
Officer), brass knuckles
Lee Strunk—carried a slingshot, tanning lotion
Lieutenant Cross—in love with Martha, stares at her pictures, is preoccupied with her –he
recalls going to see the movie “Bonnie and Clyde” with her and when he touches her knee. This
is his attempt at bravery/being courageous. Daydreaming of her provides an escape from the
harshness of war. The fact that he didn’t continue to make a move on her makes him feel like a
coward. He carries the responsibility of the lives of his men. He also carries heavy weaponry, a
compass, map, code books, binoculars, a pebble from Martha, and her picture. He feels guilty
when Ted Lavender dies—he was daydreaming.
Rat Kiley—carried M&Ms and brandy, comic books, morphine, plasma and malaria tablets,
surgical tape (things medics need)
Kiowa—carries his grandfather’s hatchet, New Testament (devout Baptist), pair of moccasins,
carries his grandmother’s distrust of the white man –he is Native American
List of weapons (pages 5- 7)—catalogues the weapons used, the nature of war, the amount of
weapons and ammunition used to save oneself or kill another
“They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible
power of the things they carried” (7).
“They all carried ghosts” (9).
“Imagination was a killer” (10). Imagination—you can daydream or worry about being killed, if
rats have rabies.
“The things they carried were determined to some extent by superstition”:
Cross, his pebble;
Dave Jensen a rabbit’s foot;
 Norman Bowker carried a thumb cut from a VC corpse of a 15/16 year old
 Boy was at the bottom of an irrigation ditch, burned, with flies in his mouth,
carrying rice and ammunition—another senseless death
Soldiers also carry stationary, pins, flares, razors, tobacco, candles, nail clippers, canvas bags of beer,
etc. They carried diseases, lice, the land of Vietnam itself, fungus, decay, gravity. (See pages 13-14)
“They shared the weight of memory” (14).
“They carried their own lives. The pressures were enormous” (15).
“…they would never be a loss for things to carry” (15).
Cross feels responsible for Lavender’s death---he feels that he “would have to carry [the death]
like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war” (16).