Lieutenant Jimmy Cross Character Analysis

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A burden, by definition, is a heavy load that is often difficult to carry. War, both for a country and an individual, is one of the headiest burdens to be shouldered with. War forces change in men both physically, emotionally, and mentally. In the short story “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien the tough weight the infantrymen must carry is both physical and emotional. When O’Brien begins naming off equipment in just the second paragraph of the story it is apparent that what these men shoulder must be by necessity only. Therefore, everything that will be described from hereinafter is essential, strategically calculated, and varies personally from man to man. Five lines of text are taken up describing a few military necessities the men …show more content…

From our initial introduction we can see that Lieutenant Cross is distracted and not focusing on the war he’s fighting in. Instead, Cross’ mind is on a young girl back home who he is not even sure reciprocates his deep love for her but he clings to her memory because a sweetheart is often one of the few escapes from war a soldier has. “On occasion he would yell at his men to spread out the column, to keep their eyes open, but then he would slip away into daydreams, just pretending, walking barefoot along the Jersey shore, with Martha, carrying nothing” (O’Brien, 641). Cross does this throughout the story, drifting in between the war and his imaginary Martha, and it doesn’t pose an issue for him until an April afternoon. One of the Lieutenant’s men, Ted Lavender, gets shot in the head while the rest of the company is distracted and Cross takes the soldier’s death personally and in result feels like a failed leader. As a result, the next morning Cross burns Martha’s letters and photographs, he swears off any further fantasies, and makes a personal vow to become a harder, crasser officer for his men. Cross becomes acutely aware to the fact that these men’s lives are in fact his to shoulder and protect, the event serves as a major reality check and turning point for the

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