Jimmy Cross, In The Things They Carried

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Was Jimmy Cross responsible for the death of Ted Lavender? The short answer is yes, but a question such as this is rarely ever easily determined. I purpose in order to reach a more satisfying answer one needs to figure out what the relationship was between Lieutenant Cross and Mr. Lavender. Many responsibilities in the military are determined by the rank of the individual. In the story “The Things They Carried” we become acquainted with a platoon thrust in the jungles of Vietnam during the War. What the reader knows very early in the story is that other than the Platoon leader, Lt. Cross the rest of the platoon is comprised of grunts. In fact the narrator states “As PFC’s or Spec 4s, most of them were common grunts and carried the standard M-16 gas-operated assault rifle.” So we can determine from that statement that Lt. Cross was the highest ranking person there, as well as the platoon leader. This means he had both positional authority and ranking authority, which I say because one does not dictate the other. Now that we know what Lt. Cross position was, we need to determine what his obligations were. Well the narrator tells us fairly early in the story, “As first lieutenant and platoon leader, Jimmy Cross carried a compass, maps, code books, binoculars and a .45-caliber pistol that weighed 2.9 pounds fully loaded. He carried a strobe light and the responsibility for the lives of his men.” This alone does not condemn Lt. Cross because it has not yet been intimated the circumstances of Ted Lavenders death. However we soon find out how Mr. Lavender died. He was shot in the back of the head while returning to the platoon from taking a leak. Now there are several examples of the type of platoon Lt. Cross was running, which would lead a rational person to conclude he was derelict in his duties with regard to his platoon. Things such as allowing men to get rid

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