Read and Annotate

Read and Annotate

The Things They Carried Intro


The story you will start today—“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien—is set in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

  • Share with your partner what you imagine American soldiers in Vietnam carried.

Reading and Reflection

Work Time

Read and annotate the first eleven paragraphs of “The Things They Carried,” up to and including the paragraph that begins, “As PFCs or Spec 4s, most of them were common grunts…”

Pay attention to how Tim O’Brien explains the story, and look up any unfamiliar terms.

Answer the following questions.

  • What kinds of things are the soldiers carrying in the first few paragraphs of the story?
  • How does O’Brien distinguish among the several characters he names?
  • Which terms did you look up?
    • Did the information you found help you with your comprehension? How so?

Discuss your answers with a partner. Add to your annotations to aid your comprehension of the text so far.

Author and Narrator

Work Time

Complete a Quick Write in response to the following question.

  • In fiction, what is the difference between the narrator of the story and the author?

Open Notebook

Discuss your answer with the class.

Paragraph Two Reflection

Work Time

Reread and annotate the paragraph that begins, “The things they carried were largely determined by necessity” (paragraph two). Then answer the following questions.

  • What is the narrator saying in the second paragraph about the things men carried of necessity?
  • Why do you suppose the narrator mentions the weight of some of the objects?
  • What patterns of organization do you notice in the second paragraph?
  • What is the effect of the story’s patterns?

When you’re finished, share your answers with the rest of the class. Write down any new ideas you hear from others.

Ted Lavender


Ted Lavender is mentioned three times in the section you just read, more than any other character.

Answer these questions in a Quick Write.

  • What does the narrator tell us about Ted Lavender?
  • Why do you think the narrator approaches Ted Lavender the way he does in this paragraph?

Open Notebook

When you’ve finished, talk through your thoughts with the rest of the class.

Presentation of Details


Read and take notes on the story, beginning with paragraph twelve and through the paragraph that begins, “They carried USO stationary and pencils and pens.”

Answer the following questions.

  • What is happening in each chunk of text?
  • What is the effect of the narrator presenting the details of Lavender’s death to the reader the way he does?
  • Record any new vocabulary or terms you do not know.