Lieutenant Jimmy Cross In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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"They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing"(O'Brien 20). The novel The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a collection of war story that focuses around his life and relationships with people in the Vietnam War, especially the part people usually choose not to focus on: the burden, the guilt and the regret. In the war stories it is forgotten that soldiers that fought in those wars are real people who had to deal with the consequences of their actions. O'Brien integrates this into the book by carving out Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, the highest ranking soldier in their group, to be the scapegoat. He makes him carry all his men and their burdens, shame and problems along with them which turns Cross …show more content…

Part of him knows the responsibility he is carrying, other part of him is aware he is not willing enough take that responsibility. In the quote "He carried a strobe light and the responsibility for the lives of his men."(5) the author shows that what they carried represent their ranks. Usage of both a serious physical and an emotional burden that was put on Cross implies he is the man that is supposed to be leading. However, as the book goes on, it is implied that Cross is as inexperienced as anyone else in his team. He is a man who is in the war leading people to die "because his friends had joined"(160). Due to his inexperience and poor judgment, many men's lives are put in danger. On the other hand his naiveté concerning the war is not the only reason that harm soldiers. Couple of mirror characters can be found throughout the book that also takes this responsibility. One example to this is Jorgenson. Jorgenson's confused and uncertain behaviours in the chapter "Ghost Soldiers" is very similar to how Cross dealt with war. O'Brien recalls his memory about the second time he had be been shot, "Later I found out I'd almost died of shock. Bobby Jorgenson didn't know about shock, or if he did, the fear made him forget"(181). In this situation Rat Kiley, man that take care of O'Brien when he was first shot, is the leader that we expect Cross to be. Whereas, Jorgenson is the leader O'Brien truly is. …show more content…

In this situation readers can feel sympathy for Cross although O'Brien makes it obvious that most of the hard situations they found themselves in is because of Cross's mistakes. There are two times in the book that it had been seen that we see Cross fails miserably. First one in Ted Lavender's and second one in Kiowa's death. After Lavender's death, many soldiers are affected by their friend's death in different ways. Yet, Cross feels like he has to carry a heavier burden for his death. Guilt which is caused by letting Martha in his mind interfere with the war he is supposed to be in. The narrator explains the way Cross feels as "He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead"(16). The quote's tone is noticeably shame. He makes a direct connection with Martha and Lavender's death as the quote is worded in a cause and effect relationship. This is where the sympathy plays a big role. Until that point in the book readers know more about the way Cross feels about Martha than any other character. Therefore, when Cross burned the letters it is easier to see the effect of losing a man and failure on him considering he had been in love with her for a long time. Despite not being able to save Lavender, Cross gave up Martha in order to become a better leader, a leader that would "not tolerate

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