The Things They Carried: Narrative and Point of View

This The Things They Carried: Narrative and Point of View lesson plan also includes:

"I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth." Just who is this "I"? In the third of ten-instructional activity unit that uses The Things They Carried as the anchor text, class members examine the point of view of Tim O'Brien's famous novel. In a related discussion, the class considers the differences between memoir and fiction and consider how "a thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth."

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

Have expert groups plan for a jigsaw activity by assuming the role of Tim O'Brien, Ehroy Berdahl, an army recruiter, a anti-war activist, or one of Tim's parents. After preparing a stance based on their character's point of view, the groups reformat and present their arguments on whether Tim should or should not go to Canada. After hearing all the arguments, individuals write a reflection in which they consider what they would do in a similar circumstance.


  • As homework, individuals are asked to identify the protagonist of the next three stories
  • A link is provided to a zip file that contains all the related resources in the unit
  • The third in a 10-lesson unit study of The Things They Carried

  • Some readers may need additional support, especially with the soldier jargon
Common Core