Study Guide

The Things They Carried Church

By Tim O'Brien


  • The men dig their foxholes in the yard of an abandoned pagoda. There are two monks there, who seem basically okay with the arrangement.
  • Kiowa isn't okay with it, though, saying that you shouldn't mess with churches.
  • They stay there for a couple of days, and the monks especially take a shine to Henry Dobbins. They call him "soldier Jesus" and help him clean his machine gun.
  • Dobbins tells Kiowa that maybe he'll join the monks after the war. Kiowa says that he didn't realize that Dobbins was religious.
  • Dobbins agrees that he's not particularly religious, but he likes the idea of being a decent person. He ends up deciding, though, that he's simply not smart enough to be religious. He couldn't explain why God invented pneumonia. Plus, um, he hates church.
  • Then Dobbins asks Kiowa if he planned to be a minister, what with Kiowa carrying around a Bible all the time. Kiowa says he'd never be a preacher, but that he likes churches, the feeling you get when you're inside them. And that setting up for war inside one of them is absolutely wrong.
  • When the monks are finished cleaning Dobbins' machine gun, he gives them each a can of peaches and a chocolate bar. And then he agrees with Kiowa, saying that all you can do is treat people decently.