Women's Role In The Things They Carried

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Although it is stereotypical of men to be known for their toughness, women play a significant role in the men’s lives by symbolizing their weaknesses and strengths. In the novel The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien emphasizes the impact that women have on him, along with the tough, courageous, and brave men in the novel. He focuses on the emotions, attitudes, and different perspectives that the men, including himself, experience when in contact with the women who are important in their lives. Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things They Carried, displays the importance of women, such as Martha, Kathleen, and Mary Anne, and the powerful roles they play in the soldiers’ lives.
Foremost, women hold a very effective and strong place, even in the war stories
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However, women also hold enough capacity to be the men’s weakness as they have the potential to make them feel discouraged, vague, and uncertain. When O’Brien published this novel, “the worry about women readers was well-grounded” (Vernon). Women are a primary representation of their own youth, innocence, and dignity. The soldiers must vicariously live through the women back at home as they are not allowed to personally embody those characteristics due to the role they play in war. Women help the men escape their cold, merciless reality of war by serving as an outlet to daydreams and hazy fantasies. Lieutenant Cross demonstrates that Martha is his mental escape when “he [wonders] what her truest feelings [are], exactly, and what she [means] by separate-but-together” (O’Brien 8). Additionally, Martha, Mary Anne, and Kathleen are very young and not fully experienced in life, as they are immature. The men, however, are at war and it forces them to mature rapidly; therefore, they cannot relate to the women as they have a characteristic that the men are not able to fully understand. Lieutenant Cross describes his beloved Martha’s …show more content…
First, Kathleen is O’Brien’s ten-year-old daughter, and she is a representation of ordinary people in everyday life. Many people do not understand the concept behind war and often question it. Kathleen finds it very common to ask her father if he killed anyone while he is serving in the war. She expresses to her father, “You keep writing these war stories, so I guess you must’ve killed somebody” (O’Brien 125). However, O’Brien cannot be truthful to his daughter and give her an honest response as it is rather difficult for him. Later, O’Brien takes his daughter with him to a trip to Vietnam where many places bring back flashbacks and memories of the war to him. However, on behalf of her perspective, she often finds everything boring and is uninterested as she does not share the same knowledge as her father. She tells her father he is rather weird when she says, “Some dumb thing happens a long time ago and you can’t ever forget it” (175). She finds it very silly that her father cannot seem to let go of his past during the war, but O’Brien understands her as he knows it is not easy to grasp how vivid memories can be when there is no experience or comprehension on her behalf. Next, O’Brien incorporates Mary Anne into the novel as she symbolizes arrogance. When she is first introduced, she is a

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