“The Things They Carried”


Tim O’Brien


12/22/03


English 6


The relationship between the soldiers of the Vietnam War was different from the relationships with people from home. The soldiers felt as if they could not tell the whole truth about the war through their eyes to their loved ones at home. The soldiers that they were with all the time understood the pain and confusion each other felt, yet no one talked about it. War changed how people had relationships with others. War could bring people closer or tear them apart.


The relationships between the soldiers and their families changed forcing them to become distant. The soldier did not want to worry his parents at home; he did not think that they would understand what he was going through. In the documentary “Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam”, directed by Bill Couturie, showed how these relationships change. One soldier writes to his mother and tells her that for a second, he felt as if he was on vacation because it was so beautiful in Vietnam. One had to think that this man wrote this to his mother only for her to worry less. He did not want to tell her the whole truth on what was really going on inside of him. Would anyone from the outside world understand? "P.S. tell mom not to worry, there is nothing I can't handle." The soldiers could handle the physical horrors that were happening to them, but the mental status of many the soldiers were tearing many of them apart.


How could you tell someone not to worry about you, when you do not even care what was going to happen to yourself. The soldiers were all prepared to die, but waiting was what was driving them crazy. They did not want to tell their 17-year-old girlfriends at home this because they would never understand the truth. How do you tell someone that you love that you are loosing your mind and do even know who the enemy is anymore? Downplaying the whole war situation to your loved one was the only way to keep yourself sane and not make them worry too much about you. All of the men were scared, yet did not know how to show it. They could not show it to their families in letters because that could do nothing more then make your mother worry that you were not going to make it. "We all scared, one can see this emotion in each individual, some hide it with their mouth and others hide it with their actions. There is no way around it. We all scared." The soldiers of the Vietnam War were terrified only because they did not want to die. Humans are not born killers, and do not know how to play the role of one. The soldiers tried to play this role as best as they could, but some failed. The families and loved ones of the men of the war did not know the role playing was taken place because the soldiers did not want to share it with them. What could someone at home do make them less frightened? The soldiers did not want people at home worrying about them. "Don't worry about me, it wont do anyone could." Having people who love you worrying about you all the time only puts more pressure on the soldiers than they already had. The felt they were forced into a job they did not want to do but must do it anyway. "I'm scared, not scared enough to quit, I am a marine." The relationships between the soldiers and their loved ones changed to do the fact that the experiences of war could not be demonstrated onto a piece of paper. Their families were not there and did not experience what the soldiers did. The loved ones of the soldiers grew closer to the soldiers only out of worry. The soldiers grew closer to their families because they did not want to die. Joker became a close friend with Cowboy because they both shared fear but did not show it. Cowboy and Joker were both laid back and afraid. They shared the connection of not showing your fear, but still having a conscience. They both did not