The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

10 August 2008 "The Things They Carried," by Tim O’Brien In ‘Things They Carried’, Tim O’Brien depicts casualties of Vietnam war and grievances faced by soldiers in the foreign land. The plot is based on romantic relations between Jimmy Cross, the lieutenant of an Army unit and a girl, Martha, he fell in love The main characters of the work, Lieutenant Cross, is suppressed by war and uncertainty, emotional distress and fear of death. The photo of his girlfriend is the only thing which helps him to overcome depression and emotional burden. Thus, Tim O’Brien points out that Ted’s romantic relationships with the girlfriend are over, still Lieutenant Cross hopes for love and sympathy.
Lieutenant Cross expresses his love and romantic feelings to Martha, thus he knows that she has other boyfriends and will not wait him for too long. Tim Obrien writes that: "At night, sometimes, Lieutenant Cross wondered who had taken the picture, because he knew she had boyfriends, ‘ he could see the shadow of the picture-taker spreading out against the brick wall" (O’Brien). This remark unveils psychological experience of Lieutenant Cross and his emotional state during the war. The soldiers are caught in a particularly vicious bind.
Lieutenant Cross remembers his visit to a theater and the first kiss, but he regrets he was too shy and timid. It seems he knows that he would never have a chance to touch Martha and kiss her again: "whenever he looked at the photographs, he thought of new things he should’ve done" (O’Brien).
Those completing their tour during the early phases of the war are met with a ignorance of U. S. military commitments while those serving after the American public became disgusted with the war are shunned as "losers." Overwhelmed by strong romantic feelings Cross neglects his duties, and one of the soldiers, Ted Lavender, is killed. In spite of this terrible death, Cross does not stop thinking about his beloved Martha. O’Brien depicts that the soldiers discuss the role of life and death in their life trying to find explanation to the situation. Only the next morning, Cross understands his terrible fault and blames himself in Lavender’s death. He burns all letters and Martha’s photographs. This moment causes awakening of the main character and his maturity.
O’Brien portrays that support and news from home are the most important things for soldiers who experience emotional tension and depression. Thus Jim Cross does not receive letters from Martha : "In those burned letters Martha had never mentioned the war, except to say, Jimmy, take care of yourself. She wasn’t involved. She signed the letters Love, but it wasn’t love" (O’Brien). Using this motif, O’Brien makes systematic effort to specify feelings and emotions with respect to warfare. Some of them experience shame and remorse while other fear and disillusionment. Survival became not only a personal quest but also a collective goal toward which all activity was geared.
In sum, details and motifs used by O’Brien allow to say that romantic relations between Jim Cross and Martha are over, thus Jim still remembers his girlfriend and hopes for reciprocity. Tim O’Brien makes a careful distinction between a just self-esteem which a man in his honor must defend and a worship of false appearance without regard to the inner reality. Such a concern for reputation is a manifestation of pride, for it is the sin of cherishing only appearance as that part of man which distinguishes him from the beast.
Works Cited
1. O’Brien, T. The Things They Carried

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