The Things They Carried

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Love: Motivation or Distraction?
Love is something that everyone desires, but when the thought of love takes over your thought process; it can be very dangerous. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross knows the feeling of love and its dangerous effects. Lieutenant Cross is currently at war in Vietnam and he is repeatedly visited by the thought of his lover Martha. Martha is a student at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey, and this is where the lieutenant fell in love. He took her to a movie and during the movie he felt her knee, but she disapproved. After the movie, he kissed her before dropping her off, and the image of his lips pressed against hers was the start of one of many distractions in the war. Memories of love can be a motivation but mainly a distraction at the same time.

Every night after the lieutenant’s platoon had finished traveling, Cross would dig himself a foxhole and sit reading Martha’s letters to him, fantasizing that they were love letters. During these sessions in his foxhole, he would imagine them traveling together on long romantic trips to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. When he was finished reading the letters, he would read, “Love Martha.” He wished that her saying love meant that she loved him as much as he loved he loved her, but he knew that it did not mean what he pretended it to be. After reading all of the letters, “He would sometimes taste the envelope flaps, knowing that her tongue had been there” (O’Brien 2). This is only one of the many excessive thought he would do because he loved Martha so much. Instead of commanding his men to be on night patrol or be aware, his love for Martha would distract him and grasp hold of him refusing to let go until he was willing to relinquish the fantasy of Martha’s love.

In the first week of April, before one of the lieutenant’s men, Lavender, had been shot, Cross received a good luck stone from Martha. A simple pebble found by the seashore, but that pebble was far from a simple pebble...