The Things They Carried

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  • Topic: Love, Lieutenant, Can't Help Falling in Love
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  • Published : September 26, 2011
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Major Works Data Sheet: “The Things They Carried”

Title: “The Things They Carried”| Author: “Tim O’Brien”| Genre: Fiction| Date Published: 1990|

Plot summary: First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is in love with a junior in college named Martha while he is in the middle of a war in Vietnam. While he travels around, he and Martha write letters to each other, in which he writes with love and she just writes back as a friend. Throughout the story, O’Brien lists all of the supplies they all carry, such as guns, knives, and ammunition. It is also revealed that the men in Jimmy Cross’s platoon carry objects that reveal their personalities as well. One morning Cross and his men come across a tunnel. It is Lee Strunk’s turn to search it so he goes inside with apprehension. In a few minutes, he comes back out shouting with joy and relief that he’s still alive, while all this time, Cross is only thinking of Martha. After a few seconds, another one of Cross’s men, Ted Lavender, is shot in the head. After Lavender’s body was removed and taken back to safety, Cross starts to cry. He hates himself for being so distracted by a girl who might not even love him back as well as Martha who is distracting him. The story ends by Cross reminding himself that his obligation was not to be loved but to lead. From now on, he will not let anything or anyone get the best of him.|

Memorable Quotes:
Quote| Significance|
1. “They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor.” | This quote is about the emotional baggage of men at risk of dying. O’Brien writes that barely restrained cowardice is a common secret among soldiers. He debunks the notion that men go to war to be heroes. Instead, he says they go because they are forced to and because refusal...
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