The Things THey carried analysis

The Things THey carried analysis - Williams 1 Alexandra...

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Williams 1 Alexandra Williams Yonghwa Lee English 367.02 October 11 th , 2007 Unpacking the Baggage: How Tim O’Brien Lets Us Truly See His Characters. The term “emotional baggage” can be defined as painful memories, mistrust, or previous hurt from past situations. We all carry some emotional baggage in our day-to-day lives, and in the short story “The Things They Carried”, author Tim O’Brien uses the metaphor of actual baggage to describe the responsibilities and emotions that the soldiers carry, which take a much bigger toll on their minds than anything could ever take on their bodies. While their weapons and other military equipment are very heavy, they are unsubstantial compared to the emotional burdens of loneliness, fear, and love that they face in the Vietnamese jungle. When the soldiers march every day with their fifty to one hundred pound rucksacks, they are apathetic to the physical toll their equipment takes on them, instead, they are thinking of wives and girlfriends back home, their fear of dying in the war, and their duty to both live and die with honor. The main character in the story, Jimmy Cross, carries the massive burden of his obsession with a girl back home, Martha. Every night, he reads Martha’s letters, studies her pictures, and imagines what her life must be like as a college junior in the United States. He spends much of his time thinking about her, often being preoccupied with nothing but thoughts of her. Though he only physically carried a few things that she had given him, including the letters, photos, and a small rock she had sent him, he carries the enormous emotional burden of his profound love for
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Williams 2 her, along with the enormous responsibility of taking care of his soldiers. His thoughts of Martha help temper his mind from the realities in front of him; instead of having to think about the war and making sure his soldiers are doing well, he can “[hump] his love for Martha up the hills and through the swamps” (604). His thoughts of Martha often distract him from what he needs to be doing. Even during a cave in, “without willing it, he was thinking about Martha. The stresses and the fractures, the quick collapse, the two of them buried alive under all that weight. Dense, crushing love”(608). Though Jimmy knows his love for Martha is inappropriate and that she doesn’t love him back, that she “received the kiss without returning it…flat and uninvolved”(608), he still carries his love as if it’s a thousand pound anvil, as if it’s the guilt of
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This note was uploaded on 04/28/2008 for the course ENGL 367 taught by Professor Lee during the Spring '08 term at Ohio State.

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The Things THey carried analysis - Williams 1 Alexandra...

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