Task 1: Letters Home

Review the description of Rat’s letter to Curt Lemmon’s sister at the beginning of “How to Tell a True War Story.”  Then do the following:


View a short clip from the video, Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (below, about 3 minutes, from 1:06:29 to 1:09:37)


Read the transcript of an actual letter written by George, a solder in Vietnam, to Red.

Letters from War SI screenshot


Reflect on the soldiers’ thoughts and emotions conveyed by the letters in both sources.

    • What was your reaction as you watched, listened to, and read the letters?  Which letter or image struck you most? Why?
    • What attitudes about soldiers, war, and killing are conveyed by the letter writers? How?
    • What similarities did you find in the letters writers’ feelings and thoughts with those of the characters in the novel?  Be specific.
    • How did George’s reasons for fighting compare to Tim O’Brien’s?
    • What frightened soldiers most? What do you think you would be frightened of?

Back to The Things They Carried Synthesis Activity Options