The Things they Carried

Topics: Blame, Guilt, A Story Pages: 3 (1107 words) Published: December 8, 2013
Intro: “They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.” In The Things They Carried, O’Brien suggests that the soldiers do not just carry physical items but also emotional loads which burden them more so than anything the war conjures factually. The three soldiers that carry this theme the most throughout the story are Jimmy Cross, Norman Bowker, and the story version of Tim O’Brien. 1.       Jimmy Cross, as the leader of the main story’s platoon, physically carries a pistol, a special flashlight, a pebble, and letters from Martha. Emotionally Cross is constantly battling his love/hate interest in Martha while still trying to focus on his responsibility for his men. O’Brien makes it clear which load Cross carries is more important. Though the pebble and Martha’s letters are repeatedly mention, they are only mentioned as things that made Cross wonder “what her true feelings were”(8). And these ponderings are proven detrimental when Ted Lavender dies and Cross blames himself because “he had loved Martha more than his men…and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war” (42). Cross was too obsessed with Martha to focus on his main responsibility. Cross now carries another weight of guilt, which adds to his emotional burden, while his physical burden is lessened because he is said to have burned Martha’s photos at the end of the first chapter. Cross’s emotional burden is increased once again when Kiowa dies. Cross blames himself for this because, as Mitchell Sanders says “Ten billion places we could've set up last night, the man picks a latrine" (28). Again this death is attributed to Cross’s lack of ability to keep his men safe. As his main focus, considering his platoon ranking, he should’ve made this his top priority but does not. But this time, though Sanders blame isn’t without merit, Cross is not only put in the lime light because of...
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