Analysis Of "The Things They Carried"

949 words - 4 pages

In The Things They Carried, there are many emotional burdens that each solider has to withstand. These burdens are, for the most part, physically present in everyday life as a soldier, while others, like the love of someone back home, may not be as physically noticeable. The book follows the life of Lt. Jimmy Cross, the leader of a regiment fighting during the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam War was perceived as a terrible time of slaughter, guerilla warfare, and protests of peace on the home front. Throughout The Vietnam War, the United States helped fight alongside the Southern Vietnamese army, whose ultimate goal was to over throw the Communist Northern Vietnamese government and hopefully reunite the land under a better ruling. During the time of war, soldiers are required to carry many things such as the obvious weight of their weaponry, ammunition, and field equipment. Some carry “near-necessities” such as cigarettes, dope, gum, and mosquito repellent. Many of these items make up an obscure amount of weight they have to drag around on a daily basis. For every soldier, however, there is something more they will carry with them, something of much more value that might not have been standard operating procedure. There are examples of comic books carried, photographs of loved ones, and even a more personal and deeper “distrust of the white man” (97).
Jimmy Cross has many burdens to bear out on the line of duty because of his leadership position as platoon leader and first lieutenant. As per his rank, Cross is required to carry such things as maps, code books, a compass, his pistol and the responsibility of the lives of his men. Jimmy carries around memoirs of his love back home, Martha. He carries two pictures of her, a letter that she wrote to him talking about normal life and elusive of the war except to say, “Take care of yourself, Jimmy” (97). He also carries a memory. This memory is what keeps Cross sidetracked from his command duties as lieutenant. The memory is one of which Martha and him are at the movies, watching “Bonnie & Clyde” and sharing an intimate moment. Cross ends up touching Martha’s knee and she looks back him with what he describes as a sober expression. He exclaims later that he would have loved to take her back to her dorm room and touch that knee all night long. This longing is what causes Cross to fall into a nostalgic state and abandon his post as commanding officer. This love however is very one-sided in that Cross believes that Martha does not really love him. He believes that she neither likes nor dislikes him; it is simply that she is unable for such emotions and does not...

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