20 The Things They Carried Quotes From the Hit Novel

Fans of historical fiction will enjoy these The Things They Carried quotes about soldiers from the Vietnam War.

The Things They Carried is a novel comprising a collection of short stories about a platoon of US soldiers in the Vietnam War.

The novel was released in 1990, and the short stories are all linked and total 233 pages.

Tell us your favorite The Things They Carried quote in the comment section below.

What are the benefits of reading these The Things They Carried quotes?

Novelist Tim O’Brien wrote The Things They Carried in response to what he felt was ignorance in understanding the war and what the soldiers went through.

Although the stories are fictional, they are based on his knowledge of his own experiences as a soldier in the 23rd infantry division.

We can learn several lessons from The Things They Carried, including:

  • all of us carry emotional and physical burdens
  • the history of the Vietnam War
  • storytelling can be an excellent way to deal with our past

Comprising 23 short stories, the novel links all the stories together to give a glimpse into the psyche of the soldiers going through war.

Look at these The Things They Carried quotes to learn more about this famous novel.

Top 5 The Things They Carried Quotes

Enjoy some of the most classic quotes from the novel.

1. “I was a coward. I went to war.”  Tim O’Brien

2. “I survived, but it’s not a happy ending.”  Tim O’Brien

3. “They died so as not to die of embarrassment.”  Tim O’Brien

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4. “Certain blood was being shed for uncertain reasons.”  Tim O’Brien

5. “You’re never more alive than when you’re almost dead.”  Tim O’Brien

Classic The Things They Carried quotes

6. “But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget.”  Tim O’Brien

7. “It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside.”  Tim O’Brien

8. “They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die.”  Tim O’Brien

9. “When you’re afraid, really afraid, you see things you never saw before; you pay attention to the world.”  Tim O’Brien

10. “They carried the common secret of cowardice… Men killed, and died because they were embarrassed not to.”  Tim O’Brien

Well Remembered The Things They Carried Quotes

Check out some of the most remembered quotes from the book.

11. “Together, we understood what terror was: you’re not human anymore. You’re a shadow.”  Tim O’Brien

12. “A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.”  Tim O’Brien

13. “I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”  Tim O’Brien

14. “You know you’re about to die. And it’s not a movie, and you aren’t a hero, and all you can do is whimper and wait.”  Tim O’Brien

15. “They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.”  Tim O’Brien

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More quotes from the controversial novel

16. “The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity.” Tim O’Brien

17. “It feels good when you just sit there like you’re in a forest and everything’s really quiet, except there’s still this sound you can’t hear.”  Tim O’Brien

18. “It’s a hard thing to explain to somebody who hasn’t felt it, but the presence of death and danger has a way of bringing you fully awake.”  Tim O’Brien

19. “It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor.”  Tim O’Brien

20. “How he had been braver than he ever thought possible, but how he had not been so brave as he wanted to be. The distinction was important.”  Tim O’Brien

The Main Characters Help Tell The Story

Even if you have no direct knowledge of war, these The Things They Carried quotes will resonate with you.

Like any good book, the main characters draw you in, and you get to feel you know them.

O’Brien is both the narrator and main protagonist.

Still, there are many other characters, including Lt. Cross, “Rat” Kiley, a medic that cannot handle the gore, and many other characters.

Please share these The Things They Carried quotes with your friends and family.

Let us know your thoughts on the book in the comment section below.

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  1. Raphael

    November 15, 2023 at 4:32 AM


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