The Things They Carried

by: Tim O’Brien

Setting

Main ideas Setting

The Things They Carried is primarily set in the country of Vietnam, during the Vietnam War. While Americans were involved in the war from 1955 to 1975, the specific characters in the stories are shown in Vietnam from roughly 1969 to 1971. Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country bordering Cambodia and Laos. The climate in Vietnam is hot and humid, and jungles abound. The characters in the book are often shown hacking their way through the jungle, or taking refuge in the tropical foliage during fighting. The beaches of Vietnam also figure into the book, serving both as places to relax and staging areas for battles. Tim, the narrator of the book, paints Vietnam as a beautiful but fundamentally unknowable country. The soldiers are often shown moving from one area to another without a real understanding of where they are going, mirroring the soldiers’ lack of clarity about the purpose of the war they are fighting.