A field by the Song Tra Bong, Vietnam

Song Tra Bong
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSong Tra Bong - Credit: Nguyễn Đông Sơn


One anonymous field plays a crucial role across many years in The Things They Carried.

It is the scene of a killing, the subject of a reminiscence, and the destination of a family journey.

The field is somewhere on the banks of the Song Tra Bong; there is no specific location given. Tim O'Brien might say it doesn't matter whether it is a real location.

Yet, because of the different ways we view the field, sifting through references over twenty years, it is more than a real location.

It is a true story.

Quang Ngai, Vietnam

Quang Ngai


Most of the events in The Things They Carried take place in Quang Ngai Province, a Vietcong stronghold during the war.  Situated in Central Vietnam, Quang Ngai has 130km of coastline and two large seaports at Dung Quat and Sa Ky. The province extends over 5,131 square kilometers, from Quang Nam in the North to Binh Dinh in the South, from Kon Tum in the West to the South China Sea in the East. Quang Ngai is known for its beautiful landscapes.

Quang Ngai Farmer
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeQuang Ngai Farmer - Credit: BertholdD, Wikimedia Commons

Quang Ngai is the homeland of the Kinh people and three other ethnic groups -- Hore, Kor and Kadong.  Archaeological finds at Sa Huynh date back 2,500-3,000 years. More recent historic sites associated with the American and French wars include Ba To, Ba Gia, Van Tuong and Son My, the location of the My Lai massacre.

Quang Ngai is famous for specialties such as transparent candy, malt, anchovies, flounders, Nien fish, Don shellfish and sugarcane birds.


Co Luy, Quang Ngai Province
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCo Luy, Quang Ngai Province - Credit: Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com