Altruism In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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Altruism, by dictionary.com is defined as the principle of unselfish concern for the welfare of others. This was what Lt. Jimmy Cross lived for. He did not want to be a leader of a cavalry when he was 19 years old. Although he did not want to be a leader, he accepted his duty and led the Alpha Company. He started off the war swimming in thoughts of Martha. But after he lost a member of the group, Ted Lavender, he blamed his thoughts for Martha as the cause of his death. He then started living for his war family and not for seeing Martha again. He even went on burn all her letters and threw away the pebble she had given him. He realized that at war, he could not continue to live in the fantasy in his head. He had to be where he was, and he was…show more content…
Marijuana was grown all over Vietnam, and soldiers had easy access to it. It mellowed out the war, and helped them continue fighting. Edward S. Michaelskim, a Vietnam veteran, said, "Everybody did it" referring to drugs and alcohol. In The Things They Carried, drug use is treated like another not-too-pleasing strategy for ignoring the horrors of the war. Some soldiers had families waiting for them at home, some had religion, and others had dope.” In O'Brien's fiction, all drugs are grouped together under the term "dope." As when writing about many of the other aspects of the book -- casual sex, killing, to name a few -- O'Brien the narrator remains non-judgmental. They are things that happen. Some people are drug addicts, others carry their girlfriends' stockings. In the moral balance and the wider craze of the war, these small transgressions hardly seem to matter. Drug use in the book is even used to fuel some of the troops' humor. Ted Lavender is the group's habitual drug user. When he is high, the other men like to ask him how the war is going. Lavender responds: "...real smooth. Today we've got ourselves a real mellow war." (gradesaver) This is always good for a laugh. When Lavender is killed, the others try to convince themselves that he is just high, is in a higher place, has taken so much dope that he's up there floating in the clouds somewhere. To help themselves believe this, the soldiers all partake in smoking what's left of Lavender's dope. This anecdote illustrates that drug use, though it may have been insubordination according to strict army definitions, was also simply a form of escapism for the
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