The Things They Carried
Women and their Role in The Things They Carried
Within the book The Thing’s They Carried, the stories of the male soldiers and their dealings with the Vietnam War. However he also delves into the stories of the women and how they affected the soldiers and their experiences in Vietnam. While the men dealt with the horrors of war, the women were right at their side, just not in as much of a public view as the male soldiers. O’Brien uses women such as Martha, Linda and Kathleen in The Things They Carried to punctuate how vital rememorance and recompense was to him and other soldiers in Vietnam.
One of the first women introduced to the reader is Martha. Martha is Lt. Jimmy Cross's love interest, even though she has only ever considered him as a friend and nothing more. O'Brien's uses the story of him and his misguidedness to show how the soldiers were completely separated from the war. After the war is over, the soldiers returned home attempting to get back to their normal lives. But as was shown with Cross and Martha, it didn’t turn out that way. Trying to cope with all the death that he found in Vietnam, Cross does not believe that Martha isn't a virgin and believes that they still could have a life together. This was meant to be a comfort and safety mechanism when he was possibly faced with rejection and death all around him. It got to the point that it was all he thought about up to Ted lavenders death. Trying to rid himself of the guilt he “burned Martha’s letters. The he burned the two photographs… He realized it was only a gesture… you couldn’t burn away the blame” (O’Brien 23) This shows that he knew that his obsessions with Martha is what lead to the death of ted Lavender, and even when he realized that and tempts to change it, he can’t. This inability to forget her even when it cost the lives of one of his team members shows how Martha was his single way to forget the war, and he would not let go of it.
Leading on from that, women were what gave him the will to write these stories, in particular Linda. Linda was a little girl that dies at nine years old due to a brain tumor. Her purpose in this books to show his reason to write these stories. She shows that he wishes to make the dead immortal within the pages of The Things They Carried. Throughout the story, O'Brien's belief that storytelling helps heals the wounds caused by the pain and confusion of coping with unexpected death. After Linda dies, O’Brien uses his subconscious and imagination to bring her back to life as he doesn’t want to forget her. He supports this point when he says “And as a writer now, I want to save Linda’s life. Not her body-her life.” (O’Brien 236) This again shows how the dead can still be alive through literature. He wants to show how she will continue to live on inside of his writings. His experience with Linda's death also explains how he was able to deal with the constant death in Vietnam. Similar to Linda, O’Brien is able to...