The Things They Carried

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The character I have chosen is Lt. Jimmy Cross from the story “The Things They Carried.” Jimmy Cross is the leader of Alpha Company in the war of Vietnam, although he seems like he is not part of it. “He had difficulty keeping his attention on the war […] but then he would slip away into day dreams, just pretending, walking barefoot along the Jersey Shore” (p.279). This quote clearly shows that he was living in a parallel world between the war that he was living at that moment and his obsessed love for Martha.

During the war Jimmy Cross had two obsessions with his love back home Martha. The first obsession that Jimmy shows is that he thinks all the time that “she was a virgin, he [and that he] was almost sure.” (p.274). Another quote that can be used as an example is how he describes her from a photo that she sent him as a souvenir “Her legs, he thought, were almost certainly the legs of a virgin, dry and without hair, the left knee cocked and carrying her entire weight” (p.276).

Even though he was not sure of her virginity, he liked thinking that she was one. The second obsession that he shows throughout the short story is that he thinks almost all the time about her “He remembered kissing her good night at the dorm door. […] He should have carried her up the stairs to her room and tied her to the bed and touched that left knee all night long.” (p.276)

Jimmy Cross is wracked with guilt because he believes that his preoccupations for his love for Martha blinded his judgment causing the death of Ted Lavender, member of Alpha Company. “He pictured Martha’s smooth young face, thinking he loved her more than anything, more than his men, and now Ted Lavender was dead because he loved her so much and could not stop thinking about her” (p.278). This quote describes not only that he blames himself of Ted’s death, but also describes that he was a weak leader for what happened.
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