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* Thesis: Jimmy Cross has leadership but falls short of it because of his guilt of the deaths in his group so he lives his life in grief since he never forgave himself of the deaths. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is novel narrated by Tim O’Brien describing events that occurred during his experience in the Vietnam War. This bittersweet novel takes place if various events throughout the book, scattering the events that took place in Tim O’Brien’s thoughts. One of the characters in the book named Jimmy Cross was the lieutenant/leader of Tim O’Brien’s group in the Vietnam War.
Throughout the events that took place, deaths occurred leaving Cross feeling responsible for the deaths. Cross’ has leadership but fell short of it because of the guilt of the deaths in his group, so, he lives his life in grief since he never forgave himself of the deaths. In the second chapter of the book, you can see the intimate conversation between O’Brien and Cross. In the Vietnam War, Cross never forgave himself over the death of the first victim named Ted Lavender. …I remember, we paused over a snapshot of Ted Lavender, and after a while Jimmy rubbed his eyes and said he’d never forgiven himself for Lavender’s death. It was something that would never go away, he said quietly… ” (O’Brien 26) This shows the feelings Cross has towards the death of Lavender. His resentment never went away even years after the war. Towards the end of the novel, another death occurs of the character, Kiowa. While the rest of the group went looking for his body, Cross, the leader, went in a type of revelation believing that, once again, he should take the blame for other soldier’s death.
While getting the body, he thinks that someone or something has to take the blame. “When a man died, there had to be blame. Jimmy Cross understood this. You could blame the war. You could blame the idiots who made the war… You could blame the enemy. You could blame God… In the field though, the causes were immediate. A moment of carelessness or bad judgment or plain stupidity carried consequences that lasted forever. ” (O’Brien 169-170) Showing the resentment he had for Kiowa’s death, it shows that it lasted forever with him trying to cope with the guilt.
With the deaths of Kiowa and Ted Lavender, you can see how it basically turned Jimmy Cross to the unthinkable. He couldn’t cope with all the responsibility he held. In the chapter, ‘Love’, Jimmy Cross goes to visit Tim O’Brien at his home in Massachusetts. The two friends sit and reminiscence about the war. When they two see a picture of Ted Lavender, Jimmy Cross confesses he never forgave himself. “At one point, I remember, we paused over a snapshot of Ted Lavender, and after a while Jimmy rubbed his eyes and said he’d never forgiven himself for Lavender’s death.
It was something that would never go away, he said quietly,…” (O’Brien 26) He never forgave himself, leading to his pride issues and downfall. So as you can see within the two events Jimmy Cross had to deal with in this novel, you can see that he did have much guilt against the deaths in the war. He didn’t want the leadership but having it lead to the turmoil in his life. He had to deal with the struggle of his blame for Ted Lavender’s and Kiowa’s death. He had leadership but, in turn, it led astray with the deaths he experienced in the war.
Author: Alfred Gobeil
The Things They Carried Essay
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In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien discusses the physical and emotional burdens that come along with war. The “things” that the soldiers carry are both literal and figurative. They carry sentimental items to remind them of home, food, weapons, survival gear, and even physical wounds. However, they also carry grief, longing, and terror. O’Brien focuses on the most prevalent of these emotions, guilt.
O’Brien, who is both the narrator and protagonist of the text, discusses his experiences in the Vietnam War. O’Brien uses his storytelling as comfort for dealing with his painful past and to mourn, “Tim trying to save Timmy’s life with a story” (246). He allows his fellow soldiers to be remembered by turning his memories into stories. In addition, by telling the stories, Tim overcomes some of his guilt. Tim is a pacifist, who when was first drafted, tries to talk himself out of going based on that fact that he opposed the war in college. He could think of no way to get out of the war as they would not let him go to graduate school and he could not fake an illness. He went to the Canadian border, thought about how “we make our choices or fail to make them” (60) and decided that running across the border was wrong, rationalizing...
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