Abieyuwa KateOsazuwaProfessorAmperEnglish14March19th, 2017
(2) Stories often give incomplete or even conflicting informationabout how the character thinks or feels, leaving the reader to fillin the blanks. Choose two characters and describe one thing (or more)that you figured out about them. Explain how you figured it out
Story: ‘The things they carried’ by Tom O’Brien
Characters: Jimmy Cross and Tad Lavender
Soldiers do have their human side. Most often than not, this side,hidden from ordinary citizens back home, has to gain prominence evenin the battlefields. They will never showcase cowardice back home,but the war fields make these traits come to fore.
The Things They Carried is a story based on real events written byTim O`Brien giving accounts of his experience as a soldier in the USdefense forces. This particular story is present in his anthologyreferred by the same name. Tom, aptly, describes all the ‘manly’items that his fellow compatriots in battle did carry with them,mostly as support accessories to perform various functions.
Soldiers, in combat, face some situational challenges. The mostimminent of these problem-based scenarios is the physical isolationfrom everyone else. Imagine getting away from your family for likesix months in far away lands where uncertainty is the order of theday. In reality, when some individuals are taken away from the commonlife areas for some hours, tension may build up. The most immediaterecourse is finding techniques that keep one’s mind distracted forthat period. This reality, precisely, describes the centralpredicament faced by soldiers.
One soldier, Jimmy Cross, takes with him a lot of love letters fromhis long time girlfriend. While on the battlefield, he takes his timeto re-read the notes at times seeking the audience of soldiers as he,in deep nostalgia, relives the romantic moments with his spouse.Cross spends a lot of time perusing the well-written letters penneddown by his literature-loving partner. In between going through theselove texts, very many thoughts cross his mind. He even wonderswhether his girlfriend was any sincere in her writings given that sheis a certified creative writer.
He gathers enough wisdom to avoid deception from the well-writtenprose taking the time to interrogate the content of the messagescritically. This situation, faced by Cross, comes to capturing thereal intention of soldiers bearing a lot of intentions miles awayfrom the rest of humanity.
The men in war uniform also carry general items giving credence thatthey are still part of mankind even when charged with extraordinaryduties. The most common cadre in the forces is that of juniorsoldiers. Members of this category carry standard sized guns. Acommon trait among all the officers is the sense of assistancetowards one another. They all take their duties seriously, and a highsense of purpose is observed in each of them ,Senior officers becometasked with high-level artillery such as missile launchers.
O’Brien narrates how personal issues, at times, affect thesoldier`s mindsets making them risk their work. Cross, for example,has to think about his girlfriend even as the force prepares for ahigh-level attack.
Lavender is shot dead, and the rest of the military crew smoke hispot perhaps as a memory of his lifestyle in the camp. They joke thathis love for drugs might have made his body a little bit too numbmaking him aloof to the fatal shot. O’Brien observes that acritical trait of the soldiers is their tendency to prioritize onfantasy even in the advent of danger. Cross blames his attachment andfeelings towards his girlfriend as the reason why he could not savehis buddy, Lavender. The death of his colleague makes him negligentto the point of breaking down.
Cross becomes presented as a very honest gentleman whose onlynegative bit is suffering from relational insecurity. The writershows him as an unstable guy, but this is only substantiated by thelove story angle. The author fails to provide his audience with theexact love situation between Cross and his girlfriend. It is noted,in the story that, Cross only took Martha for a single date. How,then, did she become his girlfriend. The story would have been morejustified if the writer gave out Cross’ age. Failing to do so mighthave forced the readers to wrongly profile the soldier, in the end,arriving at the wrong description.
The author does not explain why Lavender is facing some emotionalturmoil. Some perspectives can assist in filling up the informationdeficit. The soldier may be stressed due to family circumstances backat home. Conflict in the family, disfigured relations may have passeda negative effect on him making it hard for the warrior to sustain astable emotional state. Young age, as described by Tom O’Brien maybe making him suffer from emotional fluctuations. He may still havestarted using drugs at a very early age making his body entirelydependent on them.
The writer uses all these scenarios to quantify his observation thatsoldiers are still human beings, by all elements, even in times ofwar. They are, relatively, young age makes them vulnerable toemotional pressures that tend to expose their soft sides even intough situations.