The Things They Carried Character Analysis Essay

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“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien

In “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross had more to carry than the physical necessities of war: the responsibility to his command, and his obsession with Martha. This line foreshadows the dangerous conflict between the two, “Slowly, a bit distracted, he would get up and move among his men, checking the perimeter, then at full dark he would return to his hole and watch the night and wonder if Martha was a virgin” (151). Lieutenant Cross is preoccupied with his obsession with Martha, and this puts him and his entire command at risk, the battlefield requires his full attention, or somebody will die.

The reader quickly feels the threat of disaster looming: “The things they carried were largely determined by necessity”
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Cross has a greater burden than the physical, his responsibility to his command, and his obsession with Martha. The reader quickly becomes agitated with Cross, and his obsession for Martha, and begins to wonder if he will be one of the dead, and frankly hopes it will be him, and not one of his command due to his negligence. He is the responsible party – let him pay the price for his inattention to command.

Lieutenant Cross has many burdens to carry, the least of which was the physical necessities of war, “To carry something was to hump it, as when Lieutenant Jimmy Cross humped his love for Martha up the hills and through the swamps” (152). Tim O’Brien shows the reader in “The Things They Carried”, that although the physical necessities of war are heavy to carry, the physiological burdens such as thus carried by Lieutenant Jimmy Cross are the heavier

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