Eng 102 Short Story Draft
5 June 2013
In the short story “The Things They Carried” Tim O’brien uses physical objects that each solider is carrying to try to give us a glimpse of their lives and some insight into their personalities. Most of the things the soldiers carried were determined by necessity, such as can openers, heat tabs, helmets and canteens of water. (269). While the reasoning for O'brien's “The Things They Carried” is to speak about the physical objects each soldier carried with them, the internal things they carried were much more meaningful.
Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is the protagonist of the story. Cross carries many things while he is away at war but he mostly carries Martha. Cross is responsible for being a leader to all the soldiers who he is with. His character seems to be unsure about the orders he gives and also, seems to feel very guilty anytime anything bad happens. It is obvious that he feels the most guilty when Ted Lavender is killed. While Cross lets his mind wander to Martha, “a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey”, (269). he is brought back to reality by the death of Lavender. Cross begins to feel that he loves Martha more than anything, even his own men. (272).
O’brien shows each characters means of dealing with the awful things that happen while away at war by explaining what they carry. The men use certain items to escape the things they deal with each day and to feel a sense of security. Each man carries some object to escape whether it is by imagination or even drugs. “Lieutenant Cross physically carries letters, photographs and a ‘simple pebble, an ounce at most,’ all given to him by a junior at Mount Sebastian College, named Martha.” (McCleary). Cross will sometimes even taste the envelope flap because he knows Martha has licked it. Every time he looks at the pictures he thinks of new things he should’ve done while with Martha. (271). Lieutenants’ obsession...
Cited: McCleary, April. “The Emotional Burdens in ‘The Things they Carried’”. BlogSpot.com. Sep. 9. 2009. Jun. 5. 2013. Web.
O’brien, Tim. “The Things They Carried”. Portable Literature. Ed. Laurie Kirszner and Stephen Mandell. Wadsworth Cengage Learnning, 2013. 269-281. Print.
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