Emotions can be overwhelming for anybody but include fighting in a war and they can become even more intense. Being in love can cover the exciting and happy emotions as well as the sad ones. In the reading “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, we discover just how intense they can be. The passage chosen is the turning point of the story and describes the aftermath of what happened after one of Lieutenant Jimmy Cross’s men has been killed. Being head over heels in love affects not only the couple, but in a war, it can hurt others as well. O’Brien uses much imagery in this short passage from “The Things They Carried”. While Jimmy digs his hole with the entrenching tool (“He used his entrenching tool as an ax…”) he is slashing at his feelings with a heavy piece of equipment. The digging of the hole with this tool gives the sense that he is looking inward and fighting the emotions. His love for Martha overcame him while away at war, causing him to lose Lavender. He is overcome with grief and the last sentence “In part…” Jimmy seems confused, trying to make sense of what has just happened. Another tool that is used in this passage is patterns in the sentence structure. When Jimmy is thinking about negative emotions such as hate and shame, the sentence is short compared to thinking of love the sentence is long and drawn out. Jimmy is still in love with Martha but hurts for losing one of his men. He sees that his love for her has consequences that will haunt him for the rest of the war. The juxtaposition of this is to grab our attention and keep us interested.
Finally the symbolism used in this passage is very story specific. This again touches on the pebble that was sent to Jimmy by Martha from the Jersey Shore. As she told him previously that is symbolized where things were together but apart, like them. How this relates to this passage is the death of Ted Lavender is going to be carried by Jimmy in his stomach like a stone (connected to Jimmy but not Martha). Jimmy feels that he will be carrying the death of Jimmy for the rest of this war instead of a weight on his shoulders but as a stone in his stomach.
In conclusion, this passage is the turning point of the story; this shows the realization by Jimmy Cross that he must let his love Martha go. His love for her was so one sided and consuming that some one else died from it. That alone shows us that other people can be hurt from love, even if they are not part of the couple in love. We see that being in love is a life changing experience and should not be taken lightly.