Pebble: the Symbol of Emotion

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Malcolm D. Ervin
Professor Kristen Raymond
English 1101
28 September 2011
Pebble: The Symbol of Emotion
In The Things They Carried, O’Brien talks about many of the objects that he and his comrades carried while they were in Vietnam. They carried things like food, water, weapons and ammunition. They also carried comfort items like tranquilizers and M&M’s. Although the weight of these things placed a physical burden on the soldiers, it was the emotional weight that each of the soldiers carried that took the heaviest toll on them. The pebble, carried by Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, symbolizes multiple things that evolve throughout the text. It will prove to be a source of comfort, anguish, and relief to him. Lt. Cross was madly in love with Martha, a woman he dated once in New Jersey. She sent him letters that he kept in the bottom of his rucksack but those meant absolutely nothing in comparison to the pebble. Martha found the pebble on the Jersey Shoreline, precisely where the land met the water at high tide. “In the first week of April, before Lavender died, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross received a good-luck charm from Martha. It was a simple pebble, an ounce at most. Smooth to the touch, it was a milky white color with flecks of orange and violet, oval shaped, like a miniature egg. In the accompanying letter, Martha wrote that she had found the pebble on the Jersey shoreline, precisely where the land touched water at high tide, where things came together but also separated “(O’Brien pg. 9). The pebble at this point acts as a symbol for Martha. It is a Martha that Lt. Cross can feel, kiss, and smell. It allows Cross to think about the relationship between him and Martha. He often spent his evenings daydreaming about Martha form camping in the mountains to relaxing on the beach. With the pebble, Cross can picture Martha walking barefoot on the Jersey Shoreline. He could see her bending over, right where the land met the water, and picking up the pebble. The pebble...
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