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The Things They Carried

Main Ideas

Allusions

Main Ideas Allusions

On the Rainy River

Historical/Political

What about dominoes?

This is an allusion to the domino theory during the Cold War when the United States believed that communism needed to be fought in places like Vietnam or else nearby countries would also “fall” to communism in the same way that one domino falling makes the adjacent domino fall.

Political

If they needed fresh bodies, why not draft some back-to-the-stone age hawk?

The term “hawk” is an allusion to a person, especially a politician, who is pro-war.

Literary

. . . and a blind poet scribbling notes . . .

This is an allusion to the blind poet Milton, who wrote the epic poem Paradise Lost about Adam and Eve’s fall from innocence in the Garden of Eden.

How to Tell a True War Story

Pop Culture

Like Brigadoon—pure vapor, you know?

This is an allusion to a musical about a magical village in the Scottish Highlands that is discovered by two Americans who hear, through the mist, music coming from the village.

Religious

“Well, that’s Nam,” he said. “Garden of Evil. Over here, man, every sin’s real fresh and original.”

The term “Garden of Evil” is an allusion to and a play on the Garden of Eden, which, according to the Bible, is where Adam and Eve fell from innocence by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, an act that, according to the Christian faith, is considered humanity’s original sin.