The things they carried is a collection of short stories written by Tim O’ Brien. The book consists of linked stories about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam war. Several of his characters are autobiographical, making the book a war memoir rather than a novel. Tim wrote the stories to create awareness and understanding about the war and its world for American citizens. The book was published in 1990 and sold over 2 million copies worldwide. It has received numerous awards so far.

“They carried the sky. 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, The Things They Carried

“A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Quotes

“You can tell a true war story if it embarrasses you. If you don’t care for obscenity, you don’t care for the truth; if you don’t care for the truth, watch how you vote. Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty. Listen.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

the things they carried quotes

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“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, The Things They Carried

“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, The Things They Carried

“I survived, but it’s not a happy ending.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Though it’s odd, you’re never more alive than when you’re almost dead. You recognize what’s valuable. Freshly, as if for the first time, you love what’s best in yourself and in the world, all that might be lost.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

the things they carried quotes

“War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“But in a story, which is a kind of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit up and return to the world.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“You’re never more alive than when you’re almost dead.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“But this too is true: stories can save us.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“They would repair the leaks in their eyes.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“All of us, I suppose, like to believe that in a moral emergency we will behave like the heroes of our youth, bravely and forthrightly, without thought of personal loss or discredit.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Quotes

the things they carried quotes

“It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do. ”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“What sticks to memory, often, are those odd little fragments that have no beginning and no end.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“He wished he could’ve explained some of this. 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 Things They Carried

“It was my view then, and still is, that you don’t make war without knowing why. Knowledge of course, is always imperfect, but it seemed to me that when a nation goes to war it must have reasonable confidence in the justice and imperative of its cause. You can’t fix your mistakes. Once people are dead, you can’t make them undead.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Twenty years. A lot like yesterday, a lot like never.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“They didn’t know the first thing about Diem’s tyranny, or the nature of Vietnamese nationalism, or the long colonialism of the French—this was all too damned complicated, it required some reading—but no matter, it was a war to stop the Communists, plain and simple, which was how they liked things, and you were a treasonous pussy if you had second thoughts about killing or dying for plain and simple reasons. ”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

the things they carried quotes

“It wasn’t a question of deceit. Just the opposite; he wanted to heat up the truth, to make it burn so hot that you would feel exactly what he felt.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Together we understood what terror was: you’re not human anymore. You’re a shadow. You slip out of your own skin, like molting, shedding your own history and your own future, leaving behind everything you ever were or wanted to believed in. 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, The Things They Carried Quotes

“Well, right now I’m not dead. But when I am, it’s like…I don’t know, I guess it’s like being inside a book that nobody’s reading. […] An old one. It’s up on a library shelf, so you’re safe and everything, but the book hasn’t been checked out for a long, long time. All you can do is wait. Just hope somebody’ll pick it up and start reading.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Stories are for joining the past to the future.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“There should be a law, I thought. If you support a war, if you think it’s worth the price, that’s fine, but you have to put your own precious fluids on the line. You have to head for the front and hook up with an infantry unit and help spill the blood.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“You can tell a true war story if it embarrasses you. If you don’t care for obscenity, you don’t care for the truth; if you don’t care for the truth, watch how you vote. Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty. ”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“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. It makes things vivid. When you’re afraid, really afraid, you see things you never saw before, you pay attention to the world. You make close friends. You become part of a tribe and you share the same blood- you give it together, you take it together.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Quotes

“I was a coward. I went to the war.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing—these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Each morning, despite the unknowns, they made their legs move.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing–these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice…. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“You don’t know. When I’m out there at night I feel close to my own body, I can feel my blood moving, my skin and fingernails, everything, it’s like I’m full of electricity and I’m glowing in the dark – I’m on fire almost – I’m burning away into nothing – but it doesn’t matter because I know exactly who I am.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“But in a story I can steal her soul.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“But I do like churches. The way it feels inside. It feels good when you just sit there, like you’re in a forest and everything’s really quiet, expect there’s still this sound you can’t hear.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Quotes

“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. It makes things vivid. When you’re afraid, really afraid, you see things you never saw before, you pay attention to the world. You make close friends.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“And in the end, of course, a true war story is never about war. It’s about sunlight. It’s about the special way that dawn spreads out on a river when you know you must cross the river and march into the mountains and do things you are afraid to do. It’s about love and memory. It’s about sorrow. It’s about sisters who never write back and people who never listen.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“I’m skimming across the surface of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins, and when I take a high leap into the dark and come down thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy’s life with a story.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“A lot like yesterday, a lot like never.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Certain blood was being shed for uncertain reasons.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“He had an opinion of himself, I think, that was too high for his own good. Or maybe it was the reverse. Maybe it was a low opinion that he kept trying to erase.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“For Rat Kiley, I think, facts were formed by sensation, not the other way around, and when you listened to one of his stories, you’d find yourself performing rapid calculations in your head, subtracting superlatives, figuring the square root of an absolute and then multiplying by maybe.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Quotes

“That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“I’ll picture Rat Kiley face, his grief, and I’ll think, You dumb cooze. Because she wasn’t listening. It wasn’t a war story. It was a love story. ”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“In war you lose your sense of the definite, hence your sense of truth itself, and therefore it’s safe to say that in a war story nothing is ever absolutely true.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Even then, at nine years old, I wanted to live inside her body. I wanted to melt into her bones – THAT kind of love.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“You can tell a true war story by the questions you ask. Somebody tells a story, let’s say, and afterward you ask, ‘Is it true?’ and if the answer matters, you’ve got your answer . . . Absolute occurrence is irrelevant. A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Together we understood what terror was: you’re not human anymore. You’re a shadow. You slip out of your own skin, like molting, shedding your own history and your own future, leaving behind everything you ever were or wanted or believed in. 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, The Things They Carried Quotes

“In a way I wanted to stop myself. It was cruel, I knew that, but right and wrong were somewhere else.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“When your afraid,really afraid, you see things you never saw before, you pay attention to the world.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Once someone’s dead you can’t make them undead.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“But in a story, which is a type of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit up and return to the world.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“It’s not just the embarrassment of tears. That’s part of it, no doubt, but what embarrasses me much more, and always will, is the paralysis that took my heart. A moral freeze: I couldn’t decide, I couldn’t act, I couldn’t comport myself with even a pretense of modest human dignity.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Quotes

“And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“I remember Mitchell Sanders sitting quietly in the shade of an old banyan tree. He was using a thumbnail to pry off the body lice, working slowly, carefully depositing the lice in a blue USO envelope. His eyes were tired. It had been a long two weeks in the bush. After an hour or so he sealed up the envelope, wrote FREE in the upper right-hand corner, and addressed it to his draft board in Ohio.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“And as a writer now, I want to save Linda’s life. Not her body–her life.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“The bad stuff never stops happening: it lives in its own dimension, repaying itself over and over.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. 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. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“There was the single abiding certainty that they would never be at a loss for things to carry.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Quotes

“They were afraid of dieing, but they were even more afraid to show it.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Imagination is a killer.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“My whole life seemed to spill out into the river, swirling away from me, everything I had ever been or ever wanted to be.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“They used a hard vocabulary to contain the terrible softness. Greased they’d say. Offed, lit up, zapped while zipping. It wasn’t cruelty, just stage presence. They were actors. When someone died, it wasn’t quite dying, because in a curious way it seemed scripted, and because they had their lives mostly memorized, irony mixed with tragedy, and because they called it by other names, as if to encyst and destroy the reality of death itself.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“They did not submit to the obvious alternative, which was simply to close the eyes and fall. So easy, really. Go limp and tumble to the ground and let the muscles unwind and not speak and not budge until your buddies picked you up and lifted you into the chopper that would roar and dip its nose and carry you off to the world. A mere matter of falling, yet no one ever fell. It was not courage, exactly; the object was not valor. Rather, they were too frightened to be cowards.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Sometimes the bravest thing in the world was to sit through the night and feel the cold in your bones.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“It was a flight, a kind of fleeing, a kind of falling, falling higher and higher, spinning off the edge of the earth and beyond the sun and through the vast silent vacuum where there were no burdens and where everything weighed exactly nothing.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“How crazy it was that people who were so incredibly alive could get so incredibly dead.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Hear that quiet, man?’ he said. ‘That quiet – just listen. There’s your moral.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Quotes

“You learn, finally, that you’ll die, and so you try to hang on to your own life, that gentle, naive kid you used to be, but then after a while the sentiment takes over, and the sadness, because you know for a fact that you can’t ever bring any of it back again. You just can’t.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“There should be a law, I though. If you support a war, if you think it’s worth the price, that’s fine, but you he to put your own precious fluids on the line. You have to head for the front and hook up with an infantry unit and help spill the blood. And you have to bring along your wife, or your kids, or your lover. A law, I thought.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“The presence of danger has a way of making you feel fully awake.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“She’d say amazing things sometimes. “Once you’re alive,” she’d say, “you cant ever be dead.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“They would get their shit together, and keep it together, and maintain it neatly and in good working order.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Proximity to death brings with it a corresponding proximity to life.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“But I do like churches. The way it feels inside. 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, The Things They Carried

“If you don’t care for obscenity, you don’t care for the truth; if you don’t care for the truth, watch how you vote.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Mitchell sanders was sitting under a banyan tree and using a thumbnail to pry off all the body lice, working slowly, carefully depositing them in a USO envelope. When he was done he sealed the envelope, wrote ‘Free’ in the right hand corner, and sent it to his draft board in ohio.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Quotes

“A place where your life exists before you live it, and where it goes afterwards.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Down inside, of course, I wasn’t sure, and yet I had to see her one more time. What I needed, I suppose, was some sort of final confirmation, something to carry with me when she was gone.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“They were afraid of dying, but they were even more afraid to show it.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“I learned that words make a difference. It’s easier to cope with a kicked bucked than a corpse; if it isn’t human, it doesn’t matter much if it’s dead.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“They sat smoking the dead mans dope until the chopper came.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Kiowa who saw it happen said it was like watching a rock fall, or a big sandbag or something-Just Boom-then down. Not like in the movies where the dead guy rolls around and does fancy spins and goes ass over teakettle-not like that. Kiowa said. The bastard just flat fuck fell. Boom down. Nothing else.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“He hated her. Yes, he did. He hated her. Love, too, but it was a hard, hating kind of love.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

important quotes from the things they carried

“He wanted to know her. Intimate secrets: Why poetry? Why so sad? Why that grayness in her eyes? Why so alone? Not lonely, just alone—riding her bike across campus or sitting off by herself in the cafeteria—even dancing, she danced alone—and it was the aloneness that filled him with love.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“You can’t fix your mistakes. Once people are dead, you can’t make them undead.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“Her white skin and those dark brown eyes and the way she always smiled at the world – always, it seemed – as if her face had been designed that way. The smile never went away.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear. Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“All around me the options seemed to be narrowing, as if I were hurtling down a huge black funnel, the whole world squeezing in tight.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“To generalize about war is like generalizing about peace. Almost everything is true. Almost nothing is true.”
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried Quotes

important quotes from the things they carried

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