"Necessity dictated." pg 367
They carried whatever seemed necessary to kill or to stay alive, two opposite things, yet it paints a picture.
Really paints a picture of military life. The sentence structure, repetition, and tone allow the reader to really get involved in the story. In addition, on page 373 there is a section of question after question. These questions show what life meant to a soldier, and what their worries were. At the end of this section it said, "Imagination was a killer." This short little sentence shows such power. Of all the things to be fearful of during battle, it was their imagination that could do the most damage.
Another powerful sentence is found on page 376, "Often they carried each other, the wounded or the weak." Tim O'Brien really uses these short, to the point sentences to create a lasting impact on the reader. After listing tons of small items and military items that each soldier carried, the fact that they carried each other really had impact. It shows brotherhood and the unity of soldiers to fight for a common goal.
I think it is interesting to see the progression of things they carried. It transitions from material items, to diseases, land, and worry. From chocolate to "they carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity." It transitions from minuscule simple items, to deep, meaningful ideas.
O'Brien was able to show how such simple things can have such great deep meaning. The five senses go in overactive gear (smell of New Testament, hearing sounds of the night, floating feeling)