The Important Things They Brought
The Things They Carried In the brief essay “The important things They Brought” the setting happens throughout the Vietnam War. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and his troops are assigned different objectives, one of which is to search for the enemies in tunnels. “After five minutes, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross transferred to the tunnel, leaned down, and examined the darkness” (p. 597). Throughout the story the narrator gives a background on the war and explains the various things the troops have to carry with them, both physical and psychological luggage.
The Vietnam War started in 1959. The United States stated a war against Vietnam to stop the spread of communism. Many boy were prepared most of them did not wish to go to war. Once they were at war they did not wish to leave the war; if they might not move, they stayed to combat the enemy. “It was what had brought them to the war in the very first place, absolutely nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, simply to avoid the blush of dishonor” (p. 598). Everybody in the war wished to survive, so they needed to carry whatever they required to stay alive.
The story continuously notes the physical baggage the soldiers have to carry with them. “Among the requirements or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, pet dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, sweet, cigarettes, salt tablets, packages of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, stitching sets, Military Payment Certificates, C provisions, and two or 3 canteens of water” (p. 596). Some soldiers took things with them that they did not truly need and made their baggage heavier.
In addition to physical luggage, the troops carried psychological luggage. After Ted Lavender died, Lieutenant Cross seemed like it was his fault and he must have appreciated his soldiers more than Martha. “He had loved Martha more than his males, and as an effect 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” (p. 599). The story does not describe much of what other troops’ psychological luggage was, but much like every other soldier in combat they all had something that bothered them.
The story ends with the Lieutenant Cross hating Martha and ending up being stricter with his soldiers. He did not wish to lose another soldier because of some woman, and he understood that the soldiers might not favor him as much, however it was for their wellness. “Amongst males there would be grumbling, of course, and perhaps worse; since their days would appear longer and their loads much heavier, but Lieutenant Jimmy Cross advised himself that his responsibility was not to be enjoyed however to lead” (p. 606).