Illusions Of Love In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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Illusions of Love In Tim O’Brien’s short story “The Things They Carried,” First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is torn between the love he deserts at home and the troops he is assigned to protect in Vietnam. Under multiple circumstances Lieutenant Cross is found daydreaming about his “love” for Martha rather than focusing on the task at hand. Lieutenant Cross is blind in thinking that Martha returns the love that he endures for her; however, she still seems to remain in the forefront of his mind. Ted Lavender, one of Lieutenant Cross’s men, dies in the line of duty, and Lieutenant Cross is stricken with guilt because of Lavender’s death, but why? The narrator of Mary Oliver’s poem “Singapore” may say he encounters guilt because this traumatic event …show more content…
Lieutenant Cross and the men in his platoon all carry different items based off of necessity or superstition among other reasons. Lieutenant Cross carries letters from Martha that are “not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack” (1476). In addition to the letters, Martha sends a photograph of which “he could see the shadow of the picture taker spreading out against the brick wall” indicating that there are other men in her life (1477-1478). Based off of the lack of love within her letters and the mystery photographer of her photographs, it is evident that Martha does not reciprocate the love Lieutenant Cross has for her; however, he is too disillusioned to accept that. This same disillusionment is what leads him to daydream about Martha at inappropriate times. While one of his men is moving through a tunnel, Lieutenant Cross is trying “to concentrate on Lee Strunk and the war, all the dangers, but his love was too much for him” (1481). By allowing Martha to consume his thoughts, he is unable to properly watch over his platoon, which is why he blames himself for the death of Ted Lavender. Lieutenant Cross’s disillusioned love may have lead to the death of Ted Lavender, but is also what protects him from the horrors of war. …show more content…
He burned her letters and photographs, and begins to focus on his duties at war. However, his disillusionment is not all that needs to be conquered- his men are severely disillusioned as well due to the death of Ted Lavender. They try to joke about his death to ease the pain, even raid a village, but still they face defeat in their lack of invincibility they thought they possessed. This same perception of being invincible is what lead them to be careless in their actions and security, and is what allowed Ted Lavender to be killed like he was. It is in this way that the narrator in “Singapore” is a representation of the entire platoon. She is an illustration of how arrogance and self deception can lead to assumptions that can immediately be destroyed. Much like the platoon believed they were invincible, the narrator believed she had obtained true happiness and any individual living a life lesser than her was not capable of the same happiness. To her surprise, the janitor of whom she is watching with disgust appears to be happy in the life she lives, because she has found happiness in ways other than materialistically. As the narrator hopes for a better life for the janitor, Lieutenant Cross too hopes for a better life for his platoon. He is determined to “impose strict field discipline,” improve security, and to run a much tighter ship for the benefit of his men, and all they

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