Wartime Changes: the Transformation of Jimmy Cross

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Wartime Changes: the Transformation of Jimmy Cross

By | November 2011
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War Time Changes: The Transformation of Jimmy Cross
Many authors tend to use character transformations to further an idea in a story. Tim O’Brien’s story “The Things They Carried” has an open ending, which he uses to signal a new beginning with the transformation of Jimmy Cross. The transformation greatly ties in with one of the major themes of the story, that war changes people. Tim O'Brien provides his audience with a very descriptive image of both the physical and mental "things" the characters in the story carried. He gives the reader insight as to how the characters are physically and mentally dealing with the turmoil of the war. However, in the end of the story - Jimmy Cross - a round character, reacts to the death of Ted Lavender, and decides to grow up. To begin with, Jimmy Cross blames himself for the death of Ted Lavender. He believes that Ted died because of his own irresponsibility. He feels this way, since at the time of Ted's death, Jimmy was in a fantasy land dreaming about himself and Martha buried "...under the white sand at the Jersey shore."(101) Jimmy tried to fight off the images, but he was unable to, for "he was just a kid at war, in love."(101) Lieutenant Cross did not tell Ted Lavender to go off by himself, but since Jimmy was responsible for the well-being of all the men, he held himself responsible. The death of Ted Lavender jolts Cross into action, forcing him to realize that his fantasies of Martha have been causing him to neglect his duties. Thus, Jimmy comes to the conclusion that if he had not been pre- occupied with thoughts of being with Martha, Ted Lavender wouldn't have been shot. In fact, there was a scale in Cross’ mind; either to be a responsible leader and take care of his men or continue to think about Martha, day and night, during the war. Obviously, Jimmy could not choose both because the cruel war did not allow him to handle both at the same time which we see when Cross handles the tunnel duty. As O’Brien...

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