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Writing for Theme

The title is repeated many times throughout the story. How does the narrator classify the things they carried? Can you see meaning in the way he orders the categories? How do "the things they carried" serve to reveal theme?

Next, the narrator describes long periods of tedious activity and boredom shattered by flashes of terror and death. How does this narrative structure reveal the story's theme? In other words, what does O'Brien say about war and how it shapes or distorts the fundamental human condition (what it means to be human in the world)?

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Dear Student:

This is a story I know very well. I have taught it several times. "Things" are categorized by weight and that weight is attached to the "thing" itself. For example, Kiowa carries a Bible and also a hatchet, right? These two things then come to represent the duality of his upbringing. In his case, they represent the fact that he is torn between the Christian and the pagan--two different belief systems. That is his dilemma; in other words, the weight he carries as a Native American in a ...

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