Short Story Analysis: the Things They Carried

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Adrian Chapa Short Story Analysis: The Thing’s They Carried In "The Things They Carried," O'Brien writes, "Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to" (O’Brien, The Things They Carried 21). There are many characters throughout the short story all of which have very different character traits though they all share one thing: They are all in the very emotional, lonely and horrifying environment of war. Among the many people in the story 3 stuck out to me, showing traits of masculinity, cowardice and courage, these three people are First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, Norman Bowker and Kiowa. First Lieutenant Cross is not any more or less courageous than any other person in his platoon but he does have an added amount of responsibility put on him because he is in charge of the lives of several men. When his soldier Ted Lavender died all he could do was cry and blame himself for his death, “He felt shame. He hated himself.... this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of war.” (O’Brien, The Things They Carried 42) but he didn’t let that very heart-wrenching emotion of feeling responsible for someone’s death cloud his judgment or cause him to take his job lightly. Towards the end of the story he stepped up, over-coming the guilt he felt after the death of Ted Lavender. Learning from his mistakes and changing the way he lead his platoon “He would not tolerate laxity. He would show strength, distancing himself.” (O’Brien, The Things They Carried 100) He showed courage while seeing the bigger picture telling himself “that his obligation was not to be loved but to lead.” (O’Brien, The Things They Carried 101) Masculinity is very apparent in this platoon. Masculinity is not only being a man but it’s also not letting little things get to you like feelings and emotion in the midst of war. Every man in the platoon

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