The terms endured by the soldiers in The things that they carried is tormenting not only physically but emotionally. The terrain in Vietnam is hilly and difficult; the soldiers are in great trouble to move in the heavy monsoon rains. The soldiers are simply like mules, “ they plodded along slowly, dumbly leaning forward against the heat, unthinking … … just thumping one step and then the next… .” The soldiers sometimes covered with mud and sometimes in great heat have to undergo difficult terrains with heavy loads, making it impossible for even to walk as the precise description by O’ Brien portrays.
They were being tormented in facing the enemies in dangerous circumstances and having to carry these heavy loads. In fact, to ease the strain “ they would sometimes throw away rations and blow their claymores and grenades” . These actions clearly portray a group of soldiers who are tormented not only physically but mentally. Throwing off their rations and the grenades that could save them in case of attacks is enough evidence of the emotional distress that the soldiers are undergoing the battlefront.
In addition, the serious lack of human compassion that soldiers are faced with is an emotional torment. Lieutenant Cross, the Platoon Infantry leader is busy writing letters to his girlfriend back at home, “ without willing it, he was thinking about Martha… . and could not bring himself to worry about matters of security ” (O’ Brien, 286). The solder though leading the team is most affected and longed for the day he would get back home if he would make it through. Paul on the other hand in Quiet on the Western Front was turned into an animal by the raging war, and can now kill at will.
“ we have become like wild beasts, … … no longer do we lie helplessly waiting on the scaffold we can destroy and kill to save ourselves and to be prevented” . The war has turned Paul into an animal though at first portraying feelings of compassion to enemies. The compassion of Paul to enemies is evident, and this leads to more mental anguish in soldiers.
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