The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien
The Things They Carried Friendship Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Story Title.Paragraph)
"I'll tell you the straight truth," he said. "The guy was dead the second he stepped on the trail. Understand me? We all had him zeroed." (The Man I Killed.31)
Out of friendship, Kiowa is shifting some of O'Brien's guilt about killing a man onto himself (and the rest of the platoon). This calls back to the first quote we discussed here; the soldiers "shared the weight of memory."
And a pity about his father, who had his own war and who now preferred silence. (Speaking of Courage.61)
You'd think that Bowker's father, as a former soldier himself, would be part of the brotherhood of soldiers. It looks like World War II (the most likely war for Bowker's father to have fought in) was traumatizing in its own right, if Bowker's father can't bring himself to speak about it. Still, his experience in World War II is clearly not enough to make him recognize his son's desperate need to communicate.
He pictured Kiowa's face. They'd been close buddies, the tightest… (In the Field.49)
While Rat reacted to Lemon's death by going berserk, O'Brien reacts to Kiowa's death with denial. The first time we hear about Kiowa's death, O'Brien put the blame on Norman Bowker's soldiers. This time, when he's finally acknowledging both how close he and Kiowa were and his own responsibility in Kiowa's death, he has to use the third person. To use the first person would be too close, too painful.