Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” takes place in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Lt. Jimmy Cross and his men all carried, or humped, necessities for the war. Much of these necessities depended on standard operating procedure and their rank. O’Brian Writes “These men also carried near necessities like can openers, food rations, mosquito repellant, and water. Some of these necessities depended on the person. Ted Lavender carried tranquilizers because he was scared. Dave Jensen carried extra socks and foot powder to prevent trench foot. Mitchell Sanders carried condoms, and Rat Kelly carried comic books. Kiowa carried a bible, because he was a devoted Baptist and carried his grandfather’s hatchet” (117). Together the necessities and near necessities they carried for war were a burden for them, but it was not as heavy as the emotional burdens they carried.
Out of all the men Lt. Jimmy Cross carried the most emotional baggage. Even though, he didn’t carry as much of a physical load as his men, he was responsible for his men. When Lt. Jimmy Cross witnesses the death of Ted Lavender he grieves about it and takes responsibility. Cross was constantly distracted by Martha, and he was always daydreaming of her. He loved Martha but he knew that she did not love him “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” (128). He felt that this distraction was the cause of Lavenders death. Cross was responsible for his men, and he failed at his responsibility. He felt guilt and now he would have to carry that guilt around with him like a stone in his stomach. O’Brian writes “He felt shame. He hated himself. He loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of war” (124). After Lavender’s death, Cross decides to change his whole perspective of things. He knew...
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