The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers
How does Curt Lemon die?

Curt Lemon dies by accidentally stepping on a grenade. Lemon and Rat Kiley “were playing catch with smoke grenades” in the shade during a break their platoon took from being on the move. O’Brien observes that “when [Lemon] died it was almost beautiful, the way the sunlight came around him and lifted him up and sucked him high into the tree full of moss and vines and white blossoms.” For O’Brien, this impression illustrates that “[i]n any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen.” Lemon’s death also highlights the juxtaposition between the innocent fun of boys and the deadly seriousness of war.