Examples Of Masculinity In The Things They Carried

798 Words 4 Pages
Soldiers of the Vietnam War viewed it as a complicated and unwanted conflict, as illustrated in Tim O’Brien’s historical novel The Things They Carried. The soldiers in the book faced fear, pain, and death for a war they didn’t believe in; they killed and died because society taught them to place strength above all else. The Vietnam War introduced a pressure to aspire for masculinity and twisted love into obsession which shaped the beliefs, ideas, actions, and feelings of the soldiers in an irreversibly harmful way.

O’Brien uses masculinity as a driving force for the actions of all the soldiers. The desire for masculinity and fear of ridicule pushed many young men into the war, and resulted in a generation of men that "died and killed because
…show more content…
For example, Lieutenant Cross’s constant thought and fixation on his girlfriend Martha wasn’t healthy and results in the death of Tom Lavender. Over the course of the war, his love turned to hatred and then became a mix of both, and he blamed himself for Tom’s death because of his constant distraction. He tries to be a respectable officer but continuously finds himself drifting back to Martha, highlighting one of the more common ways soldiers cope with the horrors of war. In the same way that Kiowa read his bible or Curt Lemon played around, Cross thought about Martha, and this leads indirectly to Tom Lavender’s death. Similarly, there is a story told about Mark Fossie and his girlfriend, Mary Anne. He wanted to be with her so bad that he paid to have her fly all the way to Vietnam where she was to stay with them for a few weeks. Vietnam changed Mary, however, and she begins to become rougher and less feminine than Mark wants. His love turns to obsession when she goes on raids and acts in a way that he doesn’t approve of. He tries to regain control and forces her to dress and act a certain way, and she becomes more submissive to keep his love. As a result, she is miserable and this drives her to be even less feminine and she soon leaves him to join the Green Berets, where she wears a necklace of human tongues and goes missing for weeks on end, all a result of his obsessive love and attempts at policing her. This shows how harmful the war was to the soldier’s psyche, where all feeling seemed to become more intense and cause them to act rashly and try and control their

Related Documents