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Statement of Theme
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Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried covers the feelings and emotions that were often felt during and after the war. Pain is the more commonly had emotion, affecting many Vietnam veterans, in the form of post traumatic stress syndrome . For example, the book focuses on the psychological stress caused by the uncertain nature of the Vietnam War, which deprived the soldiers of the strong moral sense of justice that their predecessors had experienced in Korea and World War II. O'Brien questions this aspect of the war throughout The Things They Carried; for example, in the stories "Church" and "Style", characters struggle with the morality of their missions. Another related theme is the personal incongruities that many soldiers exhibited during the Vietnam War, and the stories' characters often behave in ways that seem hypocritical with their personalities. O'Brien uses this contradictory behavior to explore the complexity and depth of the Vietnam experience.