Ted Lavender In The Things They Carried

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The “Azar” within each soldier lies dormant, only until invoked by war, by desire for destruction and bloodshed—whereas the qualities of Ted Lavender are extinguished upon the first draft. In The Things They Carried, by Tim O’ Brien, the character of Ted Lavender embodies the weaker, mellower side of human nature that dies with war. In “The Lives of the Dead,” O’ Brien, the narrator, reminisces upon his antemortem memories of Lavender. “Ted Lavender had a habit of popping four or five tranquilizers every morning. It was his way of coping…” (218) Readers sympathize with and pity Lavender, “who was scared,” who couldn't quite handle the stress of war and resorted to taking tranquilizers—before being killed in the very first chapter. At first glance, readers are restricted to the blinders of our narrator’s perspective. Each soldier had to face his fear of war, and…show more content…
And in the first chapter, “The Things They Carried,” O’ Brien describes some of the actions following the death. “After the chopper took Lavender away, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross led his men into the village of Than Khe. They burned everything. They shot chickens and dogs, they trashed the village well, they called in artillery and watched the wreckage . . .” (15) As soon as Lavender falls, they all seem to go berserk. It almost seems that, due to his death, Lavender’s comrades are moved with intense sadness and rage, causing them to wreck havoc across Vietnam. This would be a completely response for any soldier—but it’s not the text’s deepest meaning. If readers take one step further, they might discover that the driving cause of these postmortem actions was not Lavender’s death. The character of Lavender serves to represent the desire to keep away from war, and when he died, so did that desire for peacefulness. The soldiers were no longer “mellow”—they no longer restrained their unbridled hatred and the full destruction of
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