The Things They Carried Shame Analysis

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The presence of shame in the novel The Things They Carried, written by Tim O’Brien, has an extensive impact on certain characters. Shame impairs the way the characters act in dangerous situations. It causes them to lose focus on the position on hand and make rash decisions that affect not just themselves but others in the war. Shame also causes characters to become nervous of how others criticize them. Humiliation was evident in Tim O’Brien, Curt Lemon, and Jimmy Cross in comparison to other characters in the book. Humiliation had a key role in how Tim O’Brien’s formed his decisions. “It had nothing to do with morality. Embarrassment, that's all it was. And right then I submitted. I would go to the war—I would kill and maybe die—because I…show more content…
“The embarrassment must've turned a screw in his head. . . . The dentist couldn't find any problem, but Lemon kept insisting, so the man finally shrugged and shot in the Novocain and yanked out a perfectly good tooth.” (O’Brien 63-64). In a previous visit to the dentist, Curt Lemon had fainted which built up his shame when he had stop by the dentist again. To ease his preceding embarrassment he chose to get a perfectly fine tooth pulled. His Lieutenant, Jimmy Cross, also had an occurrence of shame in his lifetime. Lt. Jimmy Cross was a leader of soldiers in the war and was heavily looked upon by others but lost focus of what was most important. “He felt shame. He hated himself. He had loved Martha more than his men, and as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war.” (O’Brien 16). Jimmy Cross decided to go to war only because his friends went, this makes him become a confused and erratic leader. Jimmy was blamed for the death of Ted Lavender by many of the soldiers who trusted him. He was too in love with Martha and lost his concentration on what is more important. Shame had a crucial effect on the characters throughout the story. It forced them to face more stressful situations that will forever affect their lives. Lives were risked and lost due to this humiliation. Tim O’Brien used shame
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