Unrequited Love In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

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In many stories, love is the cliche where the boy goes after the girl where they date and then marry. These are “true love” stories. However, in the novel The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, he clearly illustrates how love does not need to be romantic to be real. Soldiers bond through war. They all experience the same hardships, survive the same horrors. This bond leads to friendship then to a love that can never be broken. Rat Kiley feels this for Curt Lemon and they became inseparable. When O’Brien tells their story, he claims that “It wasn’t a war story. It was a love story” (O’Brien 81), and it paves the way to understanding their relationship. They have that bond from the start, even going as far as playing catch while their group …show more content…

Unrequited love can go hand in hand with romantic love and often does. In the first few chapters of The Things They Carried, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross talks about the love of his life who remains back home. He loves her with everything he has but she does not return the feelings. He loves her before he leaves for the war, he loves her during the war, and even loves her after the war. Unrequited love follows Jimmy Cross throughout the novel. His love for her is enough that he “wanted to sleep inside her lungs and breathe her blood and be smothered” (O’Brien 11) which shows how much he truly needs her. She represents an escape to him. Jimmy Cross loves her so much that he can imagine himself back home, with her. He can look at his pictures and vanish into it, seeing the white gym shorts she wears as if he was there. Even though he does not wish this to happen, it does. He wants to focus on his men, even if he did not want the position of Lieutenant. However, thinking about Martha completely paralyzes him. That one distraction, his one and only way out of the war while he fights, cost a man his life. To counteract that distraction and guilt, he burns the pictures he has of her, throws away the pebble she sent him and gets rid of the letters as well, he still holds onto the love. Even years and years after the war, he still holds onto the hope that one day she would love him the way he loves …show more content…

She starts with romantic love. Mary Anne loved Mark Fossie, her life intertwining with his and their plans to live in a gingerbread house and have many children. When she comes to the war, however, that love changes. She loves the land. Mary Anne loves every part of Vietnam, where she finally feels like she belongs and explains as “[She] feels close to [her] own body” (O’Brien 106) where she is “full of electricity and glowing in the dark” (O’Brien 106) and with this realization, she becomes more of herself. The girl she was when she arrived vanishes into the girl she becomes. Mary Anne knows who she is and has found where she belongs. She is the girl who goes out on ambush because she enjoys it. Everything within Vietnam, including the war, sings to her. It is everything she wants and needs. Mary Anne does not start like that, though. Her love for her boyfriend is more important than Vietnam, despite her curiosity for the land. That curiosity eventually becomes more prominent. She wants to see the people of Vietnam, see the land she grows to love. The rugged places and people she sees are enough to tell her that this is where she belongs. That this is the place where she can truly be herself, instead of the epitome of the girls back home. Her innocence vanishes, the cute blonde with a complexion like strawberry ice cream turns into a Green Beret. She chases the violence, chases everything that

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