Module 7 will be busy as we are getting nearer to the completion of the course. First, we are going to read an excellent story by Tim O’Brien. The author’s volume of short stories bears the name of the main story in the collection, “The Things They Carried,” and it has become a classic American short story since it was published. Likely the story will say somewhat more to veterans, particularly infantry veterans, than to civilian readers, but still the story is written so well that it tells the same story that Homer told us in The Iliad and The Odyssey about soldiers in war, their feelings, motivations, fears and simple humanity. Today’s veterans identify with most of the catalog that O’Brien lists, but some of the items have changed Since Viet Nam, the M-79 has been replaced, and although the PRC-25 probably should have been replaced, some vets have told me that it is still being used, at least it was in the First Gulf War. Walking point is still walking point, and the 7.62 round still makes the same zip or hissing sound when it goes by. After you read the story, move on to the discussion for the week, and participate in those questions that are of the most interest to you. It is not necessary to participate in all of the questions; they are meant to be starting points to a variety of possible discussions.
Module 7: Discussion Topics: “The Things They Carried”
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This week, after reading Tim O’Brien’s classic war story “The Things They Carried,” post responses and discussions to some of these questions about the story:
Why do most students say that they like this story?
What is the importance of the title? Does the title work for you as a reader? Does the title have a different meaning after you have read the story?
How does the story move from the physical things the men carry to the more intangible? Does this movement or back and forth analysis of “the things they carry” work for you as a reader? How? Why?
Which of the two types of things they carry is the heavier burden? Why?
Which of the men carries the most? Why is this so?
Does Lt. Cross’s name have any significance? Explain.
Does Lt. Cross think he will go back home and marry Martha?
How are the letters like the pebble? What do both mean to Lt. Cross?
Is there a common denominator for what the men collectively think about? What would that be?
Lt. Cross is about 25 years old. When he is 50 will he still remember any of these experiences, in other words, carry them? Why? How does this relate to the poem by Thomas Hardy that we write about this week?
What is it that frustrates the soldier about the letter he mailed to his dead friend’s family? How can this be related to adjusting to a “normal” life after a combat tour?
These men were in Viet Nam. Is there a chance that something like this happened in Iraq? In Afghanistan? at Gettysburg? before the gates at Troy?
As we do every week, be certain to respond to a minimum of TWO other student posts with good solid discussion posts.
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