In the story, The Things They Carried the author Tim O’Brien tells the story of soldiers of Alpha Company, led by First Lieutenant Jimmy cross. Most of the men are low-ranking soldiers. The platoon is there to fight in the Vietnam War. The narrator, Obrien, is one of the soldiers. This story is all about what objects those soldiers were carrying with them, and their memories or emotions associated with those objects. How all those soldiers are confronting the tension between fantasy and reality. The Dreamer of that Company is lieutenant Cross. He comes to his senses when one of his Company’s members shot dead. The story revolves around the confection and the tension between the world of reality and fantasy. How those soldiers continued their march, but each soldier has his own story associated with the object he carries, which haunts their minds throughout the march.(O'brien, T. (2009)
Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, of the Alpha Company carries letters of a girl, Martha, from his college in New Jersey, but she has given no indication of returning his love. He imagines her all the time throughout their march. He carries her letters in his backpack and his good-luck pebble in his mouth. The machine gunner Henry Dobbins is large, so he is carrying extra ration. He is superstitious. Ted Lavender carried marijuana and tranquilizers to calm himself down. He is a nervous man. the religious Kiowa carries an illustrated New Testament, a gift from his father. Some of the things are universal like a compress in case of fatal injuries. All soldiers carry the burden of emotional conflicts and tension with them. They have their own ideas about life. Luke Cross was so obsessed with his fantasy of Martha. He even thinks about being a virgin or not. He also remembers the time when they went to watch a movie. During watching the movie cross touched her knee and she let him put his hand back. All the time these memories haunt his mind. His fantasy and dreaming comes to an end when Ted Lavender is shot dead, on the way back from going to the bathroom. While they wait for the helicopter, to carry the lavender body, they still make jokes about lavender’s tranquilizer abuse. They smoke his marijuana. After that they keep on marching forward when they stop for the evening, Cross digs a foxhole in the ground and starts crying. Meanwhile, Kiowa and Norman Bowker discuss the short span between life and death. Kiowa thinks that there was something unchristian about the death of Lavender. The next morning after the death of Lavender Cross, burns all letters and two photos of Martha. He concludes that he will never again have fantasies. He plans the day’s march and call all men together. He reminds himself that, his job is to lead not to be loved.(Calloway, C. (1995).
This conflict of the Cross shows that soldiers at war have their psychological issues. This confection is necessary for the soldiers to make them come out of the fantasy world and to realize their role during the war. Cross feels guilty for being so obsessed with the memories of Martha that he could not do anything for Lavender. He blames himself for his death. He realizes that his thoughts of her let him to a stray, and he ignored his duty as a lieutenant. He expresses his anger by burning her letters and photos.
O’ Brien depicts that all soldiers are young in age and their emotional burdens are intensified due to their young age. They hardly realize the horror of the war. Throughout the story, Jimmy Cross lives in the world of imagination and fantasy. One incident brings him back to the world of reality. He made a decision that he should forget his past love Martha and to live his life as a patriot soldier. From the beginning to end this story tells the common tensions and conflicts the soldiers face during war.
All the soldiers in this story have their own fantasies.they Throw themselves into it and get them out of the fear of death..Lavender's marijuana addiction shows that he wants to hide himself from death, fight and destruction. He Feels nothing. This is his escape from this situation. Norman, on the other hand, finds peace in illustrated Testament..he is religious and sees everything in perspective of Christianity. Cross is fully drowned in the sea of emotions for his love from the past..Martha, who was his college life love, has conquered his mind that he could not feel sorrow at the death of his fellow soldier Lavender.. He comes to his senses next morning and buries all her memories. In the end of the story Jimmy Cross realizes that he has wasted his precious time by living in the world of dreams. He should have concentrate on his job as a lieutenant, as soon as he realizes that he calls all his men together and plan the day march. Every soldier should live in reality.
In conclusion, the story is based on facts, to create a setting. The author O’Brien describes that with all other objects soldiers carry there are guilt and cowardice as well, which they are trying to put back by jumping into the world of fantasy. This fantasy has a very short living time because death and other facts can destroy the dream world. Soldiers are meant to fight a war rather live in the memories of love. ( Krause, K. L. (2001).
Calloway, C. (1995). “How to Tell a True War Story”: Metafiction in The Things They Carried. Critique: studies in contemporary fiction, 36(4), 249-257.
Krause, K. L. (2001). The university essay writing experience: a pathway for academic integration during transition. Higher Education Research and Development, 20(2), 147-168.
O'brien, T. (2009). The things they carried. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.