Jimmy Cross Character Analysis

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Ryan Sexauer Elvrom, Period 6 2 May 2012 The Things They Carried Essay PROMPT: Is Jimmy Cross an effective or an ineffective leader? Picture being pulled into a massive conflict where a person’s character is tested as well as his or her ability to be put under pressure. When the Vietnam War was dragged out over the course of a ten-year period, between 1965 and 1975, the Selective Service Act was in use. This means that hundreds of thousands of men and women were forced to serve, whether or not he or she desired to. In Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a young man named Jimmy Cross is drafted and made the lieutenant of a small platoon. In the marshy wilderness of Vietnam, his ability to lead, along with his ability to be…show more content…
This calamitous incident occurs when he gets shot in the head and is killed while returning from using the latrine. Just moments before this tragedy occurs, Cross is daydreaming about his obsession, Martha, back in America and how he loves her and how she cannot relate with his feeling of affection. It is while his mind is wandering when Ted Lavender gets shot. Cross cannot help but feel responsible for Lavender’s death. Despite that deaths like this are commonly caused by freak incidents, he feels that if his attention had been focused on the war at the very moment Lavender died instead of the girl whose love he can never obtain, he could have prevented this loss of life. As a result of his remorse, Cross decides to remove all distractions he possibly can and “[burns] Martha’s letters [followed by] the two photographs” (O’Brien 23) of her. It is Lavender’s unexpected death that helps Lieutenant Cross recognize his responsibility to his men who are counting on him to direct them around the perils of Vietnam. When he is contemplating how to alter his tactics of leadership for the better, he reminds “himself that his obligation [is] not to be loved but to lead]” (O’Brien 26). By doing this, Lieutenant Cross demonstrates that he has the ability to learn from his past mistakes and improve his accountability to lead his men to…show more content…
When the religious soldier Kiowa is killed by mortar rounds and is sucked into “muck” that is created by human feces and the water of the flooded Song Tra Bong River, his body sinks down so far that he is hidden out of sight. Instead of reporting him as MIA, Lieutenant Cross is “determined to find his man, no matter what” (O’Brien 163), because dying in the muck field is not an honorable way to go. The military does not expect every dead body to be retrieved; however, as a leader, Lieutenant Cross is determined to leave no soldier behind. He keeps in mind that Kiowa is a devout Baptist and is not justified morally to do anything but return him home to America where he can rest peacefully. Also, while the platoon is searching through the muck to find the dead body, Lieutenant Cross thinks of a way to write a letter informing Kiowa’s father of the unfortunate news. He wants to make this letter more personal than just a notification telling the parent that his or her child has been killed in action. Lieutenant Cross shows that he is willing to go above and beyond the required duties of being a leader, because he strives to do more than that. He makes an effort to know his troops on an individual basis. Considering Lieutenant Cross is one of the draftees that initially did not want to fight in the war, he does not necessarily take on the typical militarized

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