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Essay: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Sample Essay

For Lt. Cross, an individual can never remain devoid and oblivious of the tangible and non-tangible weights that he carries. There is a considerable degree of influence of these weights upon the lives of men. Furthermore, from the mannerism of Lavender’s death and the subsequent reaction of his fellow soldiers, it is evident that men choose to base their decisions upon their observations of their peers and their respective weights (Updike & Kenison, 2000). It is necessary to highlight at this point that the weights carried by an individual, in the eyes of the author Tim O’ Brien, are the responsibilities and emotions that an individual chooses to keep upon his shoulders. These weights can either weigh a person down under responsibility or they can motivate a person through inspiration from the memoirs of times that were far better than the present.

Tim O’Brien’s, Lt. Jimmy Cross engages the world around him in a manner that seems to come in a series of stages. At first, it is evident that he chooses to create a shell for himself out of Martha’s letters and good-luck pebble. Even when his fellow soldier gets shot, Cross remains captivated in thoughts of Martha. However, it is evident that Cross’s thoughts about Martha steadily continue to become more controversial and critical. From thoughts about whether or not Martha will ever return his love, his imagination moves to question Martha’s chastity (O’Brien, 2006). We observe that Cross attempts to tackle his train of controversial thoughts by letting himself submit to what comes forth as peer pressure when the soldiers choose to shoot dogs and chickens in the village of Than Khe. However, it is evident that he reaches an extreme and his protective shell breaks, forcing him to realize the intensity of the denial he was living in. It is also clear that it was indeed Lavender’s death that led Cross to relinquish hold of his self sustaining memories of his girl Martha and her chastity (O’Brien, 2006). He eventually refuses to let his life be influenced by thoughts and memories of his past. He begins to feel guilt for Lavender’s death and that guilt exposes him to volatility of the circumstances of his present.

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