Things They Carry

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This quote is stated by John F. Kennedy in one of his speeches during the Vietnam War. He mentions that only ‘men are killed or wounded in war' and never states women. In the book The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien gender stereotypes women who are involved in the Vietnam War, he represents this through most of the short stories. Stories in particular; "Love", "Stockings", and "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" which describes one woman who participated in the Vietnam War and went beyond some of her gender roles that are placed on her. In this war women had certain roles they had to fulfill with many of them being non-traditional ones. This paper will discuss the concept of sexism in the stories Tim O'Brien expresses during the Vietnam War. Although women play a small role in The Things They Carried, it is a significant one. Female characters such as Martha, Mary Anne Bell, and Henry Dobbins's unnamed girlfriend all affect the men of the Alpha Company, although in two of the cases, the women aren't even with the men they are affecting. The men idealize the women and use their presence; in letters, photographs, and even their imagination, as a kind of heaven and a reminder that a world does exist outside the mayhem of the Vietnam War. Jimmy Cross, in "Love", carries pictures of Martha and memories of their only date. He carries, also, the hope that she might one day return his love so that he has something to look forward to after the war. Martha is pictured as the girl in the high shorts playing volleyball, never as the women who could have a job with her own life. Jimmy Cross can not let go of the girl that he knew. In "Stockings," Henry Dobbins carries his girlfriend's pantyhose for a similar reason: to remind him of home and to distract him from the harsh realities of the war and they giving him a feeling and a state of mind that he is invincible because of those pantyhose. Even though she dumps Henry, the fact that Henry still thinks that she is not connected...
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