Self and the Changing World


The things they carried were what was needed to survive. Carrying them around made the soldiers feel safe, secure, and in some cases comfortable. This shows that there are two types of soldiers. Ones who carry keepsakes and things with meaning to them, and ones who strictly carry weapons to be brought onto the battlefield.  Each individual soldier had to decide if protection or comfort was more important. Each was given basic weapons, but some decided that extra was needed. Pocket knives, steel helmets, fatigue jackets, flack jackets, .45-caliber pistols, and M-60’s were carried for protection. The ones carrying these may have been viewed as brave and war ready, but in reality were the ones who were likely the most scared. People who carry around weapons don’t do it to fight with them, but instead to intimidate their opponent. Soldiers who do this lack courage, and eventually are the ones who become paranoid on and off the battlefield.

Other soldiers decided to carry other things on their journeys. Carrying love letters and Bibles gave the soldiers the motivation to make it back home. It reminded the soldiers that there was more to live for in life. Love and religion are just two of the many things that gave the soldiers hope. This motivation and hope eventually turns into courage. When enough courage is built up a soldier is now able to make it through the war. "They were tough. They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing--these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories . Soldiers in the armed forces are taught and trained to believe fear is a weakness. If fear is spotted in the heart of a soldier, they are considered cowards and have to live on with this reputation forever. In battle, if a soldier sees fear in the eyes of his opponent they are almost certain that they will be victorious. Fear is not something soldiers will admit to, but it is a feeling that is inside of them. This shows that soldiers covered there true feelings by acting brave and heroic, when in actuality they were scared.  These men were put in a situation where they were most likely to die. This would put fear in the heart of anyone. The courageous and confident soldiers were the ones who survived. The determination kept them mentally able to handle the situation and survive the war.  

Courage can be the best weapon on the battlefield if it is used correctly. This is why it is that that It's not the size of the dog in the fight; but the size of the fight in the dog. Courage and determination are stronger than any weapon that can be used on the battlefield. I survived, but it's not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war." This quote shows that when in war, you must not show any emotions of fear towards your opposition. This also proves that having courage and not being afraid are two separate things.  

Soldiers who carry around things inspirational to them are more likely to survive than those who don't. This is because they have spunk. Courage is a soldiers best friend. It’s not always easy to have courage though, thats why imagination is needed to keep sanity.

Citations - 

Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.

"The Things They Carried Quotes." BookRags. BookRags. Web. 16 Jan. 2015. <>.


“But why mom? Do I have to? It doesn’t taste good!” This is what you would hear if you sat down at my dinner table every night for the first 7 years of my life. Everything would be going so well until disgusting green foods would be put onto my plate. I am not so sure why I hated them, but like most children I just knew I did. Maybe it could have been because the beans were wet and slimy, or maybe because it just didn’t quite taste like pizza or french fries.

I would sit and stare at my plate for as long I can remember making sure I did not accidentally touch a piece of one of the slimy beans on my plate. My mom would start off by telling me that they were good for me, and I needed to eat them, but as the night progressed she would find herself telling me I couldn’t leave the table without eating them or that if I got up it would be my dinner for tomorrow. I would sit there for hours and eventually begin to poke at my food hoping somehow this would make it disappear. Some nights, after an hour of sitting I would just begin to doze off.

I used this time to imagine. I would think of floating in space on a N.A.S.A spaceship, or being a knight in a jousting tournament. I would block out everything else that was going on around me and focus on my daydreams. It was like I had my own little world, one where I did not have to eat vegetables. In these worlds, I could be whatever I wanted to be, and had no one who could stop me. Those times seemed like the best in the world. I was i my happy place and did not want to leave.

On nights when I would be given spinach, I would daydream about eating it and becoming Popeye the Sailor. Often times, I would enjoy doing this and would end up eating my vegetables. Not because I liked the way it tasted, but because I my imagination overpowered my reality. It was like I would eat the leaves of of impulse. While chewing the leaves, I would taste a sugary flavor and begin to enjoy the food. I think my imagination made me think that spinach wasn’t all that bad after all. My mom would come downstairs and say “see, that wasn’t bad at all. You could have been done hour ago”. Most times, I would ignore her and try to get back to my imagination. It was better than anything else around, and unlike TV the episodes were always new and original.

Now that I look back, I see that mind over matter actually works. This all comes from imagination. Tricking your brain into thinking something is actually happening. When you do this you may be able to do things you never thought were possible. If you try it one day it might work out for you.