These emotions of guilt and loss are still carried by Jimmy Cross after the war. Henry Dobbins was one of the bigger fellows of group so he carried extra rations to meet his stomachs needs. In return for being the big guy of the bunch he was required to carry the huge M-60 machine gun along with 10 to 15 pounds of ammunition. The most bizarre thing that Henry Dobbins carried was his girlfriends pantyhose around his neck for its comforting magic. Even after his breakup with his girlfriend, he continued to wear the pantyhose. They provided him protection in his mind, and the others had a hard time disagreeing with the better fortune it brought him. Dave Jenson practiced field hygiene, so he carried a toothbrush, dental floss, and hotel sized sample soaps. Jenson also had night-sight vitamins high in carotene.
Dave Jensen also carried three pairs of socks and a can of Dr. Scholls foot powder to help him prevent against trench foot. Some of these objects allowed Jenson to remain or remember the life before the war. Jenson also had to carry earplugs due to when he was ordered by high command to search and blow up tunnels. One crazy thing Jenson carried for a time during the war was paranoia for breaking Strunks nose until he died. Jenson had to add another eye for his protection, two for the dangers of war, and the other for Strunk possible revenge. Even though there was a pact between the two men, the paranoia was only soothed. Ted Lavender was the young, scared soldier of the war. With the knowledge of all the possible dangers of being in invaded foreign land, hearing and being in the firefights, and seeing others die from the hands of war, intoxication was safety to Lavender. To keep himself calm and cope with the war Lavender carried tranquilizers and premium dope that he found. The dope would allow Lavender to get his wanted high and numbness, and the tranquilizers helped as his sedative-hypnotics.
The perfect combination of these two drugs kept Lavender numb from the war, and possibly even during his death. Mitchell Sanders who was the RTO carried condoms and of course the killer 26 pound radio. Sanders being a person all about communication carried the want to know the truth and obsessed with moral. Going into to the war, Norman Bowker believed that a mans courage was marked by his medals and service awards. With that belief, it caused Bowker a great deal of emotional stress. Norman Bowker carried a diary, and within this diary is Bowkers way of expressing himself. Norman Bowker keeps his thoughts to himself, because of his difficulty expressing his emotions. He could not find the words to show and tell others how he felt from his experiences from the war. In doing so Bowker carries all the damage that war can do to a man during and after the war. The crucial healing process that includes telling ones stories and thoughts of the war was something he could not do properly. Bowker had a possible chance of some therapy through the story in the book from OBrien, but the story is not told in the correct way to Bowkers true feelings, and leads to his emotional burdened death.
Kiowa who was a devout Baptist carried an illustrated New Testament given to him by his father. Having this religious background, it allowed Kiowa a sort of comfort. With his and other religions, the thought of death is eased in near the same way by life after death. Another way Kiowa dealt with the war was through helping others get through their emotional stress. He especially helped OBrien with his transitions of the war. Kiowa also brings along Native American things, such as his distrust for the white man, his grandfathers hatchet, and a pair of moccasins that allowed him to walk silently during the needed times of war. Rat Kiley carried comic books and the medical equipment for the men. Rat Kiley would carry brandy and M&Ms candies for really bad wounds. Medical equipment alone can help anyone survive a war, let alone the wilderness of Vietnam. Rat also carries stories of other things that happened in the war, the most interesting was the Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong. He could relate things that have happened with the group to others from a different part of the war. Rat Kiley is the unbelievable story teller. The way Kiley dealt with the pressure of death was by shooting himself in the foot to allow him to obtain the discharge.
Last, Tim OBrien being the most complex character, because we see him at three different stages of development carries all of his and others experiences after the war into his writing. Writing was Tims coping mechanism to heal from the effects from war. The stories Tim wrote allowed him to express and relieve himself from the burdens of war to the readers. Without such therapy, Tim OBriens fate could have ended as Norman Bowkers. Not much or if any is told within this novel of personal things that he physically carries besides the general military issued gear. In The Things They Carried, by Tim OBrien, the theme of carrying can be found within the novel. With the burden of being in war, each man carries additional emotional and physical burdens to help them survive their experiences. The things these men carried, tangible and intangible, showed who they were before, during, and even after the war.