Tim O’Brien doesn’t specify whether these named sections are chapters or just short stories. He simply put the names of the sections under “Contents”. His first section is named, The Things They Carried. During this whole section, he writes about everything that the men in his unit had to carry and how much it weighed. He also talks about the non-materialistic things that the men had to carry. All of these thoughts that formed the story were some-what organized but more or less, follow the flow of basic memory and thought process.
In the second section Love, the main character flashes forward to a later point in his life. He never talks about love in his personal life the only love he really talks about in the section is his lieutenant Jimmy Norcross’ love for Martha whom will never love him back. I think he goes from his first section to this one because in The Things They Carried section, the main character talks a lot about the love for Martha, pictures of Martha, and confusion about her that Jimmy Norcross carried throughout their mission. These facts tie into my explanation that Tim O’Brien writes like he thinks.
I believe that love was in the back of his mind during the first section. I also think that the love for Ted Lavender was a main point. Even though none of the men openly said “I loved Ted ”, I believe that they really did love him, or at least Tim and Jimmy did. I think they loved him because Jimmy could never forgive himself for letting Ted die or for letting him get shot, and Tim couldn‘t stop writing about how he was before he was shot and when he was killed in the first section.
The next section Spin, I interpret has to do with his thoughts and how they sometimes make his head spin. I could almost feel myself as the reader spinning from one memory to another. He also breaks into a short story which is almost unexpected. The third section, On the Rainy River, he writes a story that he has claimed to have never told anyone about before. He paints a clear picture of his inner conflicts with deciding to run or stay and go to the war, and outer conflicts with his life and receiving the draft notice. I guess because he went off in a “spin” of old memories, he probably felt compelled to tell the reader how it all came together in the first place; how his life was before he went to war. He stays with an old man on the banks of the Rainy River which divides him from his very escape: Canada. During the stay, they do not talk much about any of Tims problems or worries; however, the old man somehow knows just what is going on with Tim, without him having to say a word.
I believe because Tim formed some kind-of friendship with the old man he feels the need to tell a story about how men who were once enemies become friends. Two men in his troop, Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk, get into a fight because someone stole Dave’s jackknife. Dave Jensen ends up beating Lee to a pulp and breaking his nose badly. After Lee comes back Dave is paranoid that Lee will get back at him so he ends up breaking his own nose to make himself even to Lee and to say “I’m Sorry” in a sense and propose friendship. They end up getting very close and signing an agreement that states if one or the other gets severely hurt one or the other will end it for them so that they don’t have to endure a “wheelchair injury”. In the section Friends, Lee gets his leg from the knee down blown off and is scared to death that Dave will kill him because of their agreement. Dave tries to comfort him and let him know he won’t kill him until the chopper gets there.
All of these stories seem to follow his own unique memory sequence and thought process. It all makes some kind of sense to write in that order so I think he writes his thoughts one after another and I believe each section has more or less of a preview to the ideas or the stories that might be told in the next.