The Things They Carried Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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Category: Literature

Type of paper: Essay

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In the short essay The Things They Carried the setting takes place during the Vietnam War. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and his troops are assigned different missions, one of which is to look for the enemies in tunnels. After five minutes, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross moved to the tunnel, leaned down, and examined the darkness (p. 597). Throughout the story the narrator gives a background on the war and describes the different things the troops have to carry with them, both physical and emotional baggage.

The Vietnam War began in 1959. The United States declared a war against Vietnam to stop the spread of communism. Many young man were drafted most of them did not want to go to war. Once they were at war they did not want to leave the war; if they could not move, they stayed to fight the enemy. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor (p. 598).

Everyone in the war wanted to survive, so they had to carry everything they needed to stay alive. The story constantly lists the physical baggage the troops have to carry with them. Among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water (p. 596). Some troops took things with them that they did not really need and made their baggage heavier.

Along with physical baggage, the troops carried emotional baggage. After Ted Lavender died, Lieutenant Cross felt like it was his fault and he should have cared about his troops more than Martha. He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war (p. 599). The story does not describe much of what other troops emotional baggage was, but just like every other soldier in combat they all had something that troubled them.

The story ends with the Lieutenant Cross hating Martha and becoming stricter with his troops. He did not want to lose another soldier because of some girl, and he understood that the troops might not favor him as much, but it was for their well-being. Among men there would be grumbling, of course, and maybe worse; because their days would seem longer and their loads heavier, but Lieutenant Jimmy Cross reminded himself that his obligation was not to be loved but to lead (p. 606).

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