“The war.The comfort of a life the

“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien explores the private minds of drafted soldiers during the Vietnam War. The author often refers to the soldier’s equipment, specifically detailing their exact weight and quantity. This repetition serves as a mirage to the reader, hinting that their weaponry and armor are the heaviest items that the soldiers carry with them. It is the main character, Lieutenant Cross, that the reader learns that their personal items are much heavier than any gun or helmet. The presence of such items bring comfort to the soldiers; however, they also serve as dangerous distractions. The story is written for the purpose of exposing the hidden burdens that eventually prove deadly in war.The comfort of a life the soldiers once knew lingers in these items; their focus can stray from the cruel war around them to the warm memories of their past. A shining example of this is Henry Dobbin, who was explained to be carrying his girlfriend’s stocking as a neck comforter. The stocking represents a form of female intimacy that the men were not exposed to during the war. Dobbin carries the stockings with him to feel his lover’s comforting touch, a reminder of what he will be coming home to. While this is a very innocent example of a soldier’s connection to the world he has left behind, Lieutenant Cross’ items are far more complicated.¬†Martha, a college student that Lieutenant Cross is madly infatuated with, has given him photographs and letters to remember her by. Her lack of interest in him as a romantic partner is clear, yet he continues to believe that she may love him one day. This intricate fantasy has caused his mind to wander from the important matters at hand. Throughout their many missions, he would remind his men to spread out and to be aware of their surroundings. Ironically, Lieutenant Cross would slip away from reality to think about Martha and what he could have done when he was next to her. In the midst of one of his many daydreams, a fellow soldier, Ted Lavender, dies. Lieutenant Cross is suddenly hit with the realization that it was his fault.¬†Lieutenant Cross presents himself as a dynamic character when he immediately blames his distracted behavior. As a result, he forces himself to face reality and end his make-believe relationship with Martha. Lieutenant Cross burning the letters and photographs symbolizes an end of his delusional optimism for life after the war, as he decides to devote his full attention to the situation at hand, which is the looming battles the soldiers endure throughout the war.¬†

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