In the story, “The Things They Carried”, author Tim O’Brien described specific items that each of his soldiers carried with them to the Vietnam War front. The items that the soldiers carried were for mental protection; they believed that the things they carried would take their minds off all the terror and violence that was going on around them. The protagonist, Lieutenant Jimmy cross, carries out letters from a girl named Martha, which leads to him losing his focus for the war and a lack of protection for his fellow soldiers. The death of Ted Lavender tested Lieutenant Cross’ loyalty to his men, his imagination of Martha, and the significance relating to each of the items the soldiers’ carry.
Lieutenant Cross’ love for Martha’s was a major distraction during the war that causes him not being around when Lavender dies. After the daydreams that lasted until one of his soldier’s death, Lieutenant Cross blames himself for loving Martha rather than concentrating on the war. “He pictured Martha’s smooth young face, thinking he loved her more than anything, more than his men, and now Ted Lavender was dead because he loved her so much” (392). A time came during the march that everyone was invisible to Jimmy cross; only Martha existed in his fantasy world. Lavender’s death placed Lieutenant cross in a situation where he had to choose between his priorities or his fantasy about being with Martha. It was difficult to make that decision, but he chose his priorities by burning Martha’s picture and letters in order to protect his men and regain his focus for the war.
Throughout Lieutenant Jimmy Cross’ march in Vietnam, his imagination of Martha was a love fantasy. Martha was Lieutenant Cross’ pen pal. She writes letters and sent him pictures of herself, but the letters were not love letters. Whenever Lieutenant Cross is alone or at the tunnel, he would slip into daydreaming about him being with Martha, up to the day of the death of Lavender. One of his biggest fantasies about Martha was her being a virgin. In his mind, it was as if Martha belonged to him already from the way he fantasized about her. The way he fantasized about Martha can be described as “over the limit”. He often wondered who was taking pictures that Martha sent him because he could see the shadow of another person. All Lieutenant Cross wanted was to be with Martha on the shoreline of Jersey walking barefooted and caring about nothing but Martha.
The author, Tim O’Brien gives us a detailed prescription of each item that the soldiers carried with them. “The things they carried were determined by necessity” (389). Each soldier took something that has huge significance and impact with them...