The Things They Carried Character Analysis

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In “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien the antagonist faces several things that shape him as a new man. Not only do the men carry specific things, but they are also carrying the burden of war and sorrow. Most war soldiers are strong and independent, but there are others who let their thoughts of home interfere. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross faces his obsession with a woman back home, the weight of the war, and the guilt he carries from the death of his soldiers. Lieutenant Cross carries letters from a woman named Martha back home that he loves, but she is not his girlfriend. As stated by the author, “He would sometimes taste the envelop flaps, knowing her tongue had been there. More than anything, he wanted Martha to love him as he loved her,…show more content…
He feels like his obsession for Martha has led to his failure as a Lieutenant. The author states, “He felt shame. He hated himself. He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry… for the rest of the war” (719). When Lavender is killed Cross believes it is all his fault because he was too busy daydreaming about his love for Martha. The author says, “…First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross crouched down at the bottom of his foxhole and burned Martha’s letters. Then he burned the two photographs” (723). He becomes so angry at himself that he burns all the letters and pictures that he has received from Martha. He allows himself to be distracted by his unbearable thoughts of Martha and he faces the idea that he loves the thought of Martha more than his men. Cross makes a personal sacrifice by burning the letters and pictures from Martha, so she can no longer distract him from protecting and leading his men. As a savior Cross takes on the guilt of losing two important men so that the others do not have to bear it. Lieutenant Cross is fully wracked with the guilt of occupying himself with his love for Martha. The guilt eats away at Cross and makes him want to be a better leader for his men like he should have been all along. Cross allows himself to be removed from his fantasy world and becomes a better leader because he feels his men do not deserve to die
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