The Things They Carried

by: Tim O’Brien

Norman Bowker

Characters Norman Bowker

The main character of “Speaking of Courage” is Norman Bowker. Unusually for the book, this story is set after the war, and depicts Norman driving around a lake near his parents’ home on a lonely 4th of July evening in the 1970’s, longing for someone to talk to about the war. He replays several key events from his time in Vietnam, including the death of Kiowa, in his head, as if he was talking to his father or his ex-girlfriend. Norman shows the difficulty of returning home to a placid American existence after the violence and chaos of serving in Vietnam.