The Things They Carried: Lt. Jim Cross

1286 words - 5 pages

They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory and dishonor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor (O’Brien P. 369).
The things we carry may define the type of person we are in a broad but effective sense. For example, a construction worker might carry a hammer, a mailman some mail , and a police officer would carry those beautiful pieces of paper we call tickets. In carrying these items, each person may experience a different type of day in the framework of their lives. A mailman might get chased by a dog, while a cop may be chasing the “dog”. Each item may dictate our particular interest in objects and gives insight into the psychology of an individual. This was done in 1946 by a man named Tim O’ Brien. His novel titled “The Things They Carried”, first appeared as an excerpt in Esquire Magazine and told the story of the men in war with the things they carried. In the pages of this excerpt, one is able to see an epiphany performed by the soldiers. This epiphany relates to the items they had carried around during their missions and is geared especially towards the leading character, Lt. Jimmy Cross, of the excerpt. A coming of age is derived from this individual, which also sheds light on the psychological atmosphere of the men serving the Vietnam War.
“The Things They Carry”, is narrated through the consciousness of Lt. Jimmy Cross and his reaction to a number of factors. These factors include the conditions and situations the war brings along. It switches off into other character’s conscience providing this observance of the habits each soldier held. In a more emotional stance, the narrator universally characterizes the soldier’s feelings. This third person point of view allows the reader to fully observe the settings around them. The narrator takes a more stereotypical view of what the soldiers fell in a particular moment. Taking place in the Vietnam War, the situation seems grim for many of the young soldiers. They resort to the things they carry on them which defines their character in a broader sense.
Items they carried had been based on the necessity of that item and this necessity dictated (355). Amongst these was cigarettes, kool-aid packets, P-38 can openers, heat tabs, wristwatches, pocket knives, rations, water etc (355). Due to extreme war conditions, they carried armor, bandages, and a green plastic poncho that was “worth every ounce” (356). Lt. Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, which carried a strong significance throughout the duration of the excerpt. According to their rank or specialty, the soldiers carried a variety of weapons and accessories. They performed various missions while being resupplied every few days with “more of the same “(365). An increase in the amount of equipment carried...

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