Free Study Guide: The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien - Free BookNotes|
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THE THINGS THEY CARRIED: PLOT ANALYSIS / LITERARY CRITICISM
The next morning, Strunk laughs about how he really did steal Jensen’s
This chapter highlights the crucial aspects of camaraderie. In a war like Vietnam, the enemy is always hidden and death comes suddenly from a mine or ambush. In the midst of all this, you rely on your fellow soldiers for survival. The possibility of being ambushed member of his own unit, in addition to the existing hazards of war, drove Jensen over the edge.
As with most chapters, O’Brien adds a final insight to the story in
the form of a quote from one of the soldiers. Ironically, Strunk admits
he really did steal the jackknife, implying he had never really considered
After that incident, Strunk and Jensen slowly become friends. They drew
up a pact, stating that if one of them ever received a ‘wheelchair wound’,
the other guy would put him out of his misery. Not long after that, Lee
Strunk stepped on a rigged mortar round, which blew off his right leg
at the knee. As the medics bandaged him up, Strunk pleads with Jensen
not to kill him. Jensen assured Strunk he wouldn’t, and the helicopter
headed off for the medical unit. Jensen felt relieved, however, when he
heard that Strunk had died before reaching the hospital.
In a complete reversal of the previous chapter, Strunk is now terrified of
Jensen, afraid he will follow through on their pact. Jensen’s relief upon
hearing news of Strunk’s death is evidence of a peculiar sense of duty.
Instead of feeling sorrow over a comrade’s death, Jensen agonizes over
his own failure to carry out his promise. Perhaps he didn’t feel that
he had acted like a ‘true’ friend by allowing Strunk to bleed to death
in a chopper, instead of ending it all quickly.
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Strate, Shane. "TheBestNotes on The Things They Carried".
. 19 May 2008