The Things They Carried

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English 102-College Composition Short Story Critique-“The Things They Carried” September 17, 2012 Emotional Burdens Outweigh Physical Burdens of War In Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” the third person narrator lists the enormous weight soldiers must carry during war which is evident by the lists of equipment and its weight and the personal issues each man carries. Although we aren’t told about every member of Lieutenant Jimmy Cross’ 17 member platoon, we know they all carried at least 20 pounds of supplies, weapons, and rations on their back. They all carried the fear of death, and anything else they deemed necessary to control that fear. However, the psychological burden each man carries far outweighs all the equipment combined. Lieutenant Cross’ fear and deep longing for Martha, turns every aspect of war into a romantic date, jeopardizing the safety of the entire platoon and concluding with his guilt for Ted Lavender’s death. Immediately, the narrator tells us how First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters in his rucksack from a girl named Martha. “They were not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack” (637). Each evening after digging his foxhole and washing his hands, Cross would hold the letters delicately and pretend. “He would imagine romantic camping trips into the White Mountains in New Hampshire” (638). Martha may have signed her letters, Love, and Cross sometimes licked the envelopes to taste her, but her letters were mostly gossipy and vague when it came to love. “When darkness approached Cross put the letters back in his rucksack. Slowly, a bit distracted, he would get up and move among the men, checking the perimeter; then at full dark he would return to his hole and watch the night and wonder if Martha was a virgin” (638). Cross was extremely distracted by thoughts
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