The Things They Carried

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Leonard Cheah
814725425
“Material Allies”
In the short story The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross leads a band of his men through the hills and swamps of Vietnam while dealing with the psychological agony of both his love for Martha and the safety of his men. In wartime however, it is known that your fellow man is anything from safe. Much of the men have camaraderie, but know that at any moment the person sitting next to them could be killed. This is where the theme of classification in personality when it comes what they carried as the expressed nature versus the actual personal experiences they may have previously had. In missions, Cross would continuously try to analyze his men but end up finding the different things they carried as the symbols for their personality or so he assumed. One solider in particular, Ted Lavender was seen in the group as a symbolic ideal of deadweight in terms of functionality in the group but yet held a parallel to the war and emotional attachment. He was known as a scared solider, which is universally known to be counter intuitive in a war zone. To kill or be killed, is the motto, and having someone who is scared of the fight yet pushed on was again something more of detrimental ideal to the group. “But Ted Lavender, who was scared, carried 34 rounds when he was shot and killed outside Than Khe, and he went down under an exceptional burden, more than 20 pounds of ammunition, plus the flak jacket, plus the unweighted fear. He was dead weight.” (O’Brien 390). On top of that Lavender was known for having his six to seven ounces of his own premium dope, which for a person of that caliber in war would be essential. It would seem that Cross is the perfect parallel to understand more of the addiction that he deals with Martha. Cross constantly motions his thoughts about his love Martha to the point that he does not realize that his inability to focus on the task at hand in a more constructive...
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