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The Things They Carried

            â€œThe Things They Carried” is a short story by author Tim O’Brien. It is a fictional account of an American officer, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, and his soldiers serving in Vietnam. The story begins with a description of the equipment the men are required or chose to carry with them as they patrol Vietnam. Interwoven in the story amidst the descriptions of the men’s possessions, fears, attitudes, is the story of how Ted Lavender, one of the men, dies. Jimmy is constantly daydreaming about a girl he loves, who does not love him. The platoon is ordered to go destroy a tunnel system near a village in Than Khe. After the tunnel was cleared, Tom Lavender is shot in the head while returning to the platoon after relieving himself. The central idea of the story is people who neglect their responsibilities often need to experience the results of their failure in order to change.
             The main character in this story is Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, who is a 22-year-old Army officer from New Jersey. He believes that he should not be leading his men. “…He could not bring himself to worry about matters of security. He was beyond that. He was just a kid at war, in love.” Jimmy is in love with Martha, a girl back home. He carries her letters and a stone she sent him for good luck and he often daydreams to escape the reality of war. “He carried the pebble in his mouth, turning it with his tongue, tasting the sea salts and moisture.” and “…but then he would slip away into daydreams, just pretending, walking barefoot along the Jersey shore, with Martha carrying nothing.” Jimmy also carries the weight of command and the responsibility for his men’s lives. After one of his men dies the author writes this. “Lieutenant Cross felt the pain. He blamed himself.” There are two main supporting characters, Martha and Ted Lavender.
             Martha is a junior a Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey.