The Things They Carried: Martha

The Important Things They Brought

In Tim O’Brian’s “The Things They Brought,” Lieutenant Jimmy Cross’s fascination with Martha triggers the death of Ted Lavender, an officer under his charge. The Lieutenant’s mind was continuously distracted from the war by his thoughts of Martha. Jimmy has a fascination with her; he needs to know whatever that happens with her, and even around her. The Lieutenant has deep desires for her, but he images her the way her wants her to be. Fantasizing about Martha, rather of seeing his environments, is what causes Ted Lavender to be killed.

The main issue with Jimmy’s affection for Martha is that it is more a fixation. The number of musings which Jimmy has about Martha shows how much he thinks of her. Jimmy obsesses about what’s going on around her. After Cross receives the pebble and checks out the letter, “he wondered who had been with her that afternoon [.] It was phantom jealousy, he understood, however he couldn’t help himself. He loved her that much” (68 ).” [A] t full dark [Jimmy] would return to his hole and enjoy the night and question if Martha was a virgin” (65 ).

His obsession is so extreme that he licks the envelopes, “understanding her tongue had actually existed” (65 ). When the Lieutenant is in his fantasy world he frequently photos Martha in the most beautifully spectacular matter, making Jimmy more enamored with her. Jimmy constantly pictures Martha as perfect, classy, a work of art to be valued. Each time Jimmy pictures Martha, he photos a particular area in a comprehensive manner, assisting to advance his infatuation. Her legs are, “definitely the legs of a virgin, dry and without hair, the left knee cocked and bring her entire weight” (66 ).

He remembers “touching that knee” and how he wanted to “touch that knee all night” (66 ). He concentrates on her feet when he reads her letter about the ocean: “he imagined bare feet [] her feet would be brown and bare, the toenails unpainted” (68 ). The descriptions of her are his desires for her to be best and innocent. When Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is gazing into a tunnel after Lee Strunk had actually gone in to kill any enemy in the tunnel, Jimmy’s day dreams of Martha start. His love was excessive for him, he felt paralyzed;” (69) he might not snap himself out of the musing. Lieutenant Cross combated to stay with the war, “all the risks” (69 ), but he could not do it. He can not control his own mind in regards to Martha, another part of him ends up being in control and he gets absolutely lost in the musing. He discovered himself “buried with Martha under the white sand at the Jersey Coast” (70 ). He understands that there is a war going on, “yet he could not bring himself to fret about matters of security” (70 ).

The only thing that brought Jimmy out of his lethal daydream was when Strunk lastly crawled out of the tunnel hole. While Cross was fantasizing the opponent had closed on their position, and shot Ted Lavender in the head. It was explained in a graphic manner to symbolize the 2 extremes of Jimmy’s world; the dream that he has actually remained in with Martha is really pleasant, while the truth is very harsh; his “teeth were broken,” his “cheekbone was gone” and Lavender’s eyes were a “swollen black bruise” (70 ).

After this occasion Jimmy goes to get payback by burning a whole village for the death of Ted, however inside he blames himself; “he felt embarassment. He disliked himself. He enjoyed Martha more than his guys” (72 ). He knows that if he had actually been focusing on what is going on around him in his environment Ted could still be alive. Work Cited O’Brian, Tim. “The Important Things They Carried.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice, 2005. 65-76.

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