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Chapter description...things are being described...with the words...no not all the words, but some of the words. Sure...definitely...some but not all of the words.

Trauma in "The Things They Carried"

The chapter illustrates the need to discuss and communalize trauma, especially when the experience has been shared. Cross' isolation after Lavender's death exacerbates his grief. By contrast Bowker and Kiowa have the opportunity to talk. Kiowa's repetition of the same information borders on the reliving described by Shay and van der Kolk and van der Hart. The talking though makes Kiowa feel better. Similarly Bowker does not want to re-confront Lavender's death, but after Kiowa obeys Bowker and goes quiet, Bowker immediately requests Kiowa keep talking -- masking his feelings with the statement, "One thing I hate, it's a silent Indian" (18). Bowker does not want to talk about Lavender's death but the only thing worse than talking about the experience is not talking about it.

"while Kiowa explained how Lavender died, Lieutenant Cross found himself trembling.
He tried not to cry. With his entrenching tool, which weighed 5 pounds, he began digging a hole in the earth.
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."

Identity and Gender in "The Things They Carried"

In the chapter “Love,” when Tim return from war, O’Brien reveals to the readers that he will never be able win Martha’s heart. Throughout the war, Lieutenant Cross’s mind was preoccupied with the longing of Martha’s love. Similarly, in this chapter, Cross longs for what could never have been, compared to the hopeful love he strived for while in Vietnam, which helped him maintain his own safety as well as the ability to face the horrors war offers. Martha, the feminine figure that motivated Cross to make it through war, only to receive her love as a reward was suppressed. Overall the love for Martha, the only feminine desire Cross longed for, was still alive within him, even though she had rejected his offer for intimacy, similar to the other male character’s situation in the novel.

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“She had never married… and probably never would… it occurred to him that there were things about her he would never know. Her eyes were gray and neutral… he took her hand, there was no pressure in return… when he told her he still loved her… she didn’t answer” (28).
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The Nature and Effects of War

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Faith, Belief, and Superstition in "The Things They Carried"

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Love in "Love"

In O’Brien’s chapter “Love”, years after the war has ended, cross confessed his love for Martha that had remained since before his deployment. This displays the theme that a love strong enough to carry someone through a war won’t fade with time. Cross displays this with his long-term feelings for the same girl he loved decades earlier. The retainment of a love so unreciprocated indicates the strength of his dependence on her that he displayed during the war. He formed his dependence on her as a mechanism to retain his sanity. She reminded him of the home he loved, so when her pictures were the only sentiment of home he had, he loved her as if he was home itself.

They’d run into each other, he said, at a college reunion in 1979. Nothing had changed. He still loved her (27).

Fracturing of Themis in "The Things They Carried"

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Fellowship and Comrades in "The Things They Carried"

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Death in "The Things They Carried"

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Courage in "The Things They Carried"

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The Soldier and the Civilian in "The Things They Carried"

“Love” focuses on Cross’s “love” for Martha and the reasoning behind it. In this chapter, Jimmy Cross represents the average dutiful soldier who is pining for civilian life and fantasizes about being back home. Martha, the girl he is obsessing over, represents the civilian life that the soldiers want to come back to. This is supported by the fact that Cross knows very little about Martha except that he’ll never truly have her—the same way some soldiers feel about returning to America.

“Nothing had changed. He still loved her…it occurred to him that there were things about her he would never know” (27).

Key Authorial Choices in this chapter

  • “He’d never forgive himself for Lavender’s death. It was something that would never go away… I felt the same about certain things” (26).
  •  “‘You typewriters… “you’ve got long memories’” (27).
  • “We decided to forget the coffee and switched to gin, which improved the mood, and not much later we were laughing about some craziness that used to go on” (26-27).
  • “She had never married… she didn't know why… it occurred to him that there were things about her he would never know… her eyes were gray and neutral” (27).
  • “She didn’t understand how men could do those things, what things?... the things men do” (28).  
  • “For a full day we drank coffee and smoked cigarettes”(26).
  • “I decided there was no harm in asking about Martha. I’m not sure how I phrased it…”(27).
  • “There was a banquet, and then a dance, and then a dance, and then afterward they took a walk across the campus and talked about their lives” (27).
  • "But as she said this, her eyes seemed to slide sideways..." (27).
  • “She crossed her arms at her chest…”(28).
  • “I told him I’d like to write a story about some of this… ‘Maybe she’ll read it and come begging. There’s always hope, right?’” (28).
  • “It came close, he told her -- he’d almost done it. Martha shut her eyes...as if suddenly cold” (28)
  • “Later when he took her hand, there was no pressure in return...when he told her he still loved her, she kept walking and didn’t answer” (28).
  • “The way Henry Dobbins carried his girlfriend’s pantyhose around his neck...Kiowa’s moccasins and hunting hatchet...Rat Kiley’s comic books” (27).
  • “ ‘Make me out to be a good guy, okay? Brave and handsome, all that stuff. Best platoon leader ever’” (29).

 

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