Lieutenant Cross' Change Of Heart Essay

1139 words - 5 pages

Tim O'Brien's short story "The Things They Carried" informs us about the items that were carried by the soldiers of the Vietnam War. Not all of the items were physical, some were emotional: "They carried the emotional baggage of men who might die. ... They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret.... They carried their reputations" (74). The emotional "baggage" often helped the soldiers get through each day and take their minds off the circumstances of the war. However, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross' love for Martha often occupied his thoughts, and this eventually results in Jimmy changing the way he leads the soldiers under his command in war.First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is ...view middle of the document...

Martha was constantly on Jimmy's mind: "He pictured Martha's smooth young face, thinking he loved her more than anything, more than his men, and now Ted Lavender was dead because he loved her so much and could not stop thinking about her" (67). Jimmy's love for Martha often took up so much of his thoughts that his soldiers became second rather than first: "He felt shame. He hated himself. He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead..." (72). Jimmy being preoccupied with his thoughts of Martha lead to the loss of a soldier."...Ted Lavender was shot in the head on his way back from peeing" (70). Right before Lavender was killed, Lieutenant Cross was busy daydreaming about Martha: "...he was not there. He was buried with Martha under the white sand at the Jersey shore" (70). The Jersey shore was a common place that Jimmy would think back to when he thought of Martha. Jimmy then blamed himself for the death of Ted Lavender, even though had he not been thinking of Martha he probably would not have been able to save Ted from getting shot.The men were now in the Than Khe area and Lee Strunk had drawn the number seventeen to be the one to search the tunnel that day. While Strunk was in thetunnel: "Henry Dobbins ate a tropical chocolate bar. Ted Lavender popped a tranquilizer and went off to pee" (69). None of the other men offered to go with Ted just in case, which makes it seem like walking off to go to the bathroom was not so dangerous. During the time that Lavender was gone no one happened to think if he was in trouble or if he needed help. But, right when: "Lee Strunk made a funny ghost sound..." (70) Ted Lavender was shot in the head: "Like cement...boom-down. Not a word" (72).It may not have been possible for Jimmy to save Ted even if he were paying attention, but Lieutenant Cross still blamed himself: "Lieutenant Cross felt the pain. He blamed himself" (67). So he decided to change how he lead his soldiers:He would look them in the eyes, keeping his chin level, and he would...

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