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Heartwarming / The Things They Carried

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Tim O'Brien gets the point across that The Things They Carried is more than a war story — that it is also a love story.

  • The third chapter, "Spin", gives a number of disjointed recollections and most of them are pleasant: Azar giving a little boy a chocolate bar and expressing sympathy for the boy's missing leg, Kiowa teaching a few soldiers a rain dance in front of a very confused village, Henry Dobbins and Norman Bowker dig a foxhole and play checkers every night, Ted Lavender adopts a puppy (which is soon blown up by Azar). An overall relaxing chapter, even if it dips into Nightmare Fuel at the very end.
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  • Despite the Dude, Not Funny! comments he made towards Kiowa in regards to his death, Azar later admits that his Sociopathic Soldier tendencies are a coping mechanism to deal with the harshness of the war and apologizes to the rest of the crew, who accept it.
  • The final few paragraphs of the novel, where O'Brien goes into detail over how storytelling has the powerful effect of making memories alive. Even though Lavender, Kiowa, Linda, among other characters are no longer with us, O'Brien mentions that their memory will never leave him as long as he keeps sharing their stories. That the dead are, in a way, revived in writing.
  • O'Brien's anecdote about the time his platoon spent five days with an old but well-footed Vietnamese farmer on the Batangan Peninsula, which was also infested with mines and improvised bombs. Despite his age and hobbling on a stick, the old farmer somehow knew where every last landmine and booby trap was on the peninsula. Each day, when the platoon went on patrol, they would form a line behind the old man and match his steps exactly, with Rat Kiley leading everyone in singing a cheerful, catchy playground song about the consequences of treading on a landmine. Although the Peninsula was a huge minefield, nobody was killed and the entire platoon learned to love the old farmer.
    It was a sad scene when the choppers came to take us away. Jimmy Cross gave the old poppa-san a hug. Mitchell Sanders and Lee Strunk loaded him up with boxes of C-rations.

    There were actually tears in the old guy's eyes. "Follow dink," he said to each of us, "you go pink".

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