In Tim O’Brien’s short story, “The Things they Carried,” soldiers do their best living up to their masculinity. However, their identities are challenged again and again during the course of war. O’Brien writes, “They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture”(O’Brien 20). They all act invincible though they are all aware that death can happen at any moment. We see their weaknesses seep through the cracks and it defines who they are as human beings. These men cannot not bypass the chance of death but try to camouflaged their feelings by being “courageous” during this time of war. Men have a standard of being brave, strong and can endure anything. Through perseverance these solider remain strong to their masculine upbringing. These particular men force themselves act masculine during wartime so they can be accepted in their psychological homes amongst each other.
Masculinity impacts Tim O’Brien’s soldiers in such a way that they seem to be without fear but in reality it is the heaviest thing they have to carry through out the entirety of war. “They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. . . . 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” (20). War has been stereotyped as a threatening and brutal situation which only men should be involved in. The soldiers possess a kind of masculinity that America has preordained them to. These men agree to go to war; as well as agree to die before even knowing if they will be allowed to live. Their motives behind coming to war are for their own selfish reasons. They disguise themselves in a manly façade of a soldier that causes them to receive glory and honor they...