Character Chart

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Character Chart
As you read Chapter One of The things they Carried fill in this chart.
If a character has a militarty specialty, make a note of it under his name (ex: platoon leader, radio operator, etc .) 

Name of Character

Physical Things the Character Carried

Feelings and Emotions the Character Carried

Jimmy Cross





Henry Dobbins





Dave Jensen




Ted Lavender




Mitchell Sanders





Norman Bowker





Rat Kiley








Lee Strunk




Tim O'Brien (author)






Chapters 1, 2 and 3
"The Things they Carried," "Love," and "Spin"

1. Why did soldiers in Vietnam use profanity and crude jokes? (Ch. 1)

2. Why did Lieutenant Jimmy Cross feel guilty about Ted Lavender's death? (Ch. 1)

3. What did Jimmy Cross carry AFTER the war, both physically and emotionally? (Ch. 2)

4. What was the average age of the soldiers in the narrator's platoon? (Ch. 3)

5. What does Tim, the narrator, say the role of stories is? (Ch. 3)

Chapter 4
"On the Rainy River"

6. Why did the Vietnam War seem morally wrong to Tim (the narrator)?

7. After receiving his draft notice, the narrator experienced a variety of new emotions.

What were they and what did they cause him to do?

8. After his time with Elroy, why did the narrator realize that Canada was not an option for him? Explain.

9. In the last paragraph of Chapter 4, the narrator says "I was a coward. I went to war."
Why do you think Tim believed it was cowardly to GO to Vietnam rather than stay home?

Chapters 5 and 6
"Enemies" and "Friends"

10. Why did Dave Jensen break his own nose? (Ch. 5)

11. What agreement did Jensen and Strunk make in Chapter 6?

12. Why was Jensen relieved of "an enormous weight" when he learned that Strunk had died? (Ch. 6)

Chapter 7
"How to Tell a True War Story"

13. What do you think people commonly believe that war stories illustrate or teach?

14. What does Tim O'Brien believe about true war stories? (Discuss several characteristics.)

15. What happened to Curt Lemon?

16. What do you think really happened to the six man patrol at the listening post?

17. Why did Rat Kiley torture the baby water buffalo?

18. Explain how, according to the narrator, war can be both ugly and beautiful.

19. What additional things does Tim O'Brien say about war stories at the end of this chapter?

Chapters 8 and 9
"The Dentist" and "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong"

20. Why did Curt Lemon want his tooth pulled? (Ch. 8)

21. Describe the changes in Mary Anne Bell from the time she arrived in Vietnam to be with her boyfriend until the end of the chapter. (Ch. 9)

22. Why do you think she changed? What did the change symbolize? (Ch. 9)

Chapters 10 and 11
"Stockings" and "Church"

23. Why did Henry Dobbins continues to carry his girlfriend's stockings even after she broke up with him? (Ch. 10)

24. What was Kiowa's reaction to setting up camp in a pagoda? Why? (Ch. 11)

Chapter 12
"The Man I Killed"

25. How did the narrator react to the fact that he killed another human being?

What evidence in the chapter led you to this conclusion?

Chapters 13 and 14
"Ambush" and "Style"

26. How did Tim view the Vietnamese soldier before and after the ambush? (Ch. 13)

27. How does this experience still affect Tim after the war? (Ch. 13)

Chapter 15
"Speaking of Courage"

28. Norman Bowker won seven medals from Vietnam.
What did they mean to him? Why did he still lament not winning a silver star?

29. What happened to Kiowa? Where did this happen?

30. Why did Bowker feel guilty about Kiowa?

Chapter 16

31. What happened to Norman Bowker? Why?

32. a. What did Bowker want Tim to tell a story about?
b. What was his reaction to the first version of the story?
c. How and why did Tim change the original story?

33. What does narrator say about his transition from Vietnam to civilian life? Do you think this is true? Give evidence from the book to support your answer.

34. Who else felt responsible for Kiowa's death?

Chapter 17
"In the Field"

35. What does Jimmy Cross blame himself for? Why?

36. What was in Kiowa's rucksack when they found it?

37. Who do you think the "boy" was?

38. Why did the boy think he was responsible for Kiowa's death?

Chapters 18 and 19
"Good Form" and "Field Trip"

39. What do you think Tim O'Brien means when he says there is a difference between "story truth" and "happening truth"? (Ch. 18)

40. What, for Tim, was the symbolism of field where Kiowa died? (Ch. 19)

41. When Tim returned to Vietnam 20 years after the war, what did he bring with him and what did he do that surprised his daughter? (Ch. 19)

42. What was the significance of this action for Tim? (Ch. 19)

Chapter 20
"The Ghost Soldiers"

43. Why did Tim O'Brien want revenge against Bobby Jorgensen?

44. How does Tim say he changed during war?

45. What was the main "ghost" in Vietnam?

46. What was Tim's plan to get revenge against Jorgensen?

47. How did Tim feel after carrying out that plan? Why?

Chapters 21 and 22
"Night Life" and "The Lives of the Dead"

48. How did Rat Kiley get out of active duty in Vietnam?

49. Who was Linda and what happened to her?

50. Why do you think the narrator tells us the story about Linda?

51. According to O'Brien what was the role of stories in Vietnam and after?

52. At the end of the book Tim says "I realize it is Tim trying to save Timmy's life with a story." Explain what you think he means by that.

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