Head in the Clouds
The main characters in “Araby” by James Joyce and “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien are both at war with fantasy and reality. Both of these characters are ones motivated by their infatuation with woman they hardly know but believe that they love them. Both these stories tell us that their fantasizing and objectification of these women are used to cover up their true feelings. In return this offers the main characters an escape from reality. Through the exchange of letters between Lt. Jimmy Cross and the center of his infatuation Martha in “The Things They Carried”, he allowed himself to become more obsessed with the thought of her. The letters simply state the events Martha encounter in her daily life, lines of poetry she would quote, not one single word was written to imply she had feelings for him (O’Brien, 354). There is never an inkling of profound feelings for Lt. Cross being hidden in Martha’s words, but at the end of each letter she signs them with the word “love”. This is the fuel that fed the fire that was his infatuation (O’Brien, 354). The way she signs her letters along with the good luck pebble she sends him are enough for him to know that she is thinking about him even though he is not there. Those two things are enough to set his fantasy of having her, wild. Since the majority of Lt. Cross’s time is spent idealizing a woman in his mind, it caused him to neglect the responsibilities he has to his platoon. Fatal choices are made as Cross’s mind remains in the clouds. Had he interpreted the letters for exactly what they were, instead of allowing his mind to distort words and phrases, lives may have been saved. The letters which are meant to be only a temporary relief from the tough reality he faces everyday, in his mind are made to be her way of declaring her love. Having love for someone is a natural part of life but allowing it to take over your life, is not. In the story “Araby” the narrator is also lusting over a...
Cited: Kelly, Joseph. The Seagull Reader - Stories. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008. 354-72. Print.
Kelly, Joseph. The Seagull Reader - Stories. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008. 215-21. Print.
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