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The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers
What are the things the soldiers carry?

In the first story in the novel, O’Brien writes that the “things they carried were largely determined by necessity” and lists dozens of items, such as matches, dog tags, mosquito repellant, ammunition, medical supplies, and food. Each solider also carried personal mementos, from Kiowa’s “illustrated New Testament” to Dave Jensen’s “three pairs of socks and a can of Dr. Scholl’s foot powder.” O’Brien writes that the soldiers carried immaterial things as well, including a “silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried” and “ghosts” of the men they saw killed.