Summary/Analysis Paper Instructions for The Things They Carried  


US History, Summer 2010


Posting #1 (Up to page 66):  Due 7/8 by 11:00 PM

Posting #2 (Up to page 130):  Due 7/12 by 11:00 PM

Posting #3 (Up to page 180):  Due 7/18 by 11:00 PM

Posting #4 (Up to the End):  Due 7/20 by 11:00 PM


Quiz Must Be Taken By:  7/23; Paper Due:  7/26


This paper should include your responses to the book The Things They Carried. The paper should answer ALL of the Questions for Consideration.  Feel free to comment on other information from the book and I encourage you to make links to lecture and discussions, and any appropriate web pages.  Direct quotes must have quotation marks and the page number on which they appear should also be included (see instructions on the back of this page).  These papers must be typed, double-spaced, and well written (correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.).  There is no page requirement, but it will probably take at least 1,000 words. 


The easiest way to organize this paper is to answer each question in its own paragraph or series of paragraphs.  If you would rather write a single essay that incorporates all of the answers to the Questions for Consideration, that is fine.  The layout/organization of this paper is entirely up to you.


Questions for Consideration


1.     Describe the following characters:  Azar, Norman Bowker, Jimmy Cross, Bobby Jorgenson, Kiowa, and Ted Lavender. Who were they?  What role did they play in the story?

2.     Choose at least three of the book’s short stories covering O’Brien’s time in Vietnam and summarize them.  As you do so, describe the range of conditions faced by soldiers fighting in Vietnam.  Suggested chapters include:  “The Things They Carried,” “Spin,” “The Man I Killed” & “Ambush” (those two go together), “In the Field,” “The Ghost Soldiers,” and “Night Life.”

3.     Summarize at least two stories involving O’Brien or another character which took place primarily either before or after time spent in Vietnam.  Explain how these stories demonstrate the long-term (and often emotional) impact the war had on their lives.  Chapters addressing these themes include “On the Rainy River,” “Speaking of Courage” & “Notes” (those two go together), “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,” “Field Trip,” “Night Life,” “The Lives of the Dead.”

4.     How would you evaluate the approach O’Brien took to writing this work?  He was a soldier in the war, yet this is a work of fiction.  Among other short stories, make sure to discuss “How to Tell a True War Story,” “The Man I Killed,” “Ambush,” “Notes,” and “Good Form.”

5.     What are the strengths & weaknesses of this book as a source to learn about life for US soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War?  (Hint:  What was the author’s background?  Was the book believable/credible?  Why/why not?   Was it easy/enjoyable to read?  Why/why not?  Links to additional sources could help to address the book's credibility here).










Citation Format Style


1.     Italicize the titles of books or ships.


2.     Spell out all numbers between zero and nine.


3.     Watch verb-tense; usually past tense is best to use while writing, but the paper may be written using either past or present tense.  Just make sure to be consistent.


4.     Try to avoid over-use of quotations, but any quotation longer than four lines should be indented five spaces and single-spaced (rather than double-spaced).   If/when this is done there is no need for quotation marks.


5.     A source MUST be cited and/or included in the bibliography when a:


a)     Direct quote is taken from a source.

b)    Series of sentences or a paragraph are paraphrased.  For example, if some words are changed around there must be an in-text citation and an item must be included in the bibliography.

c)     Source is consulted (even if nothing is quoted or paraphrased) it must be included in the bibliography


6.     When providing a citation within the body of the paper the in-text citation style is used.  Citation examples are below:


a)     Example of how a direct quote or paraphrase taken from the book you are assigned to read should be cited (only the page number is needed): 


“The Geneva Accords of 1954 reflected these influences” (41).


b)    Example of how to cite a direct quote taken from a website (for a website only the author is needed): 


“On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South” (White House).


7.     If a source other than the book that is assigned is used, a bibliography is required.  The bibliography page should be the last page of the paper and entries should be organized in alphabetical order according to author (not numbered).  Entries should also be single-spaced within the entry and double-spaced between each entry.  


a)     For websites, include the author (if one is listed), the title, the complete URL address of your website and the date it was accessed.


White House. “Abraham Lincoln.”

                    Accessed 20, May 2010.