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The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers
Why aren’t the stories in chronological order?

The narrator of the novel, Tim, tells the stories of the novel to try to understand how the war changed him, and to remember the friends he made (and sometimes lost) there. Thus, he is more interested in the recurring ideas, themes and image of the war than in recreating the factual chronology of the war. The fractured, repetitious and occasionally confusing flow of stories in the novel reflects Tim’s experience in Vietnam, as well as how he thinks about it in the present.