Usually the men are brave, but sometimes when they are being attacked they become terrified and cry and scream and make promises to God. They are ashamed afterward. They don't want to look cowardly in front of the others. They tell jokes to distance themselves from their grief and fear: whenever someone dies, they don't call it death, they call it being "greased" or "offed" or lit up." It doesn't mean that they care any less, itonly means that they know that caring doesn't change anything. They don't want to be thought of as weak or soft. They all dream about simply lying down and not getting up, or shooting off their own toe, so that they can be taken out of the war. They dream aboutnot having to carry anything anymore.Topic Tracking: Bravery 1After Lavender dies, Jimmy Cross burns Martha's letters and photos. He knows it is a silly gesture, because he has all of them memorized. But now he knows that she will never love him. He begins to hate her, even as he loves her. He turns into a soldier--a man who does not let his feelings take him out of the reality of his duty. He still thinks about her, but she is no longer really with him. He decides that from now on he has to be stricter with his men, and distance himself, not caring about anyone as much.Topic Tracking: Effects of War 122
Chapter 2, LoveYears later Jimmy visits Tim (the narrator) and they talk about the war. They look at photographs, and Jimmy says he never forgave himself for Lavender's death. Tim feels the same way about some things. After they are both drunk, Tim asks about Martha. Jimmy is surprised that Tim remembers her, but he goes to his room and gets a framed picture. It is the volleyball photograph. At a college reunion in 1979, they had run into each other. She was a Lutheran missionary, a nurse. She had never married, and she said she didn't know why, and looked at him mysteriously. When he told her he still loved her, she shrugged him off. Her eyes were dull when she looked at him, and she said she was sorry. Then she gave him a copy of the photograph and laughingly told him not to burn this one. He still loves her, Jimmy tells Tim. They avoid the topic for the rest of Jimmy's visit, but as he is leaving he asks Tim to write a little story about him andMartha. He thinks it might change her mind. Tim agrees, promising to make Jimmy look good, and not to mention certain parts of the story.Topic Tracking: Truth 123
Chapter 3, SpinSometimes the war can almost seem sweet or fun. Azar gives a young Vietnamese boy a candy bar. Mitchell Sanders picks lice from his body and mails them to his draft board (which sent him to war) in Ohio. "On occasions the war was like a Ping-Pong ball. You could put a fancy spin on it, you could make it dance." Chapter 3, pg. 32 Some of the men play checkers: it gives them a reassuring sense of order. In the game, there is always a winner and a loser.