In the short essay “The Things They Brought” the setting happens during the Vietnam War. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and his soldiers are designated different missions, one of which is to try to find the opponents in tunnels. “After 5 minutes, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross moved to the tunnel, leaned down, and analyzed the darkness” (p. 597). Throughout the story the storyteller provides a background on the war and explains the various things the troops have to bring with them, both physical and psychological luggage.
The Vietnam War began in 1959. The United States stated a war versus Vietnam to stop the spread of communism. Many boy were drafted most of them did not wish to fight. Once they were at war they did not want to leave the war; if they could not move, they remained to combat the enemy. “It was what had actually brought them to the war in the very first place, nothing favorable, no imagine splendor or honor, simply to prevent the blush of dishonor” (p.
Everybody in the war wished to endure, so they had to bring everything they required to stay alive. The story constantly lists the physical luggage the soldiers need to bring with them. “Among the requirements or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, penknife, heat tabs, watches, pet dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, sweet, cigarettes, salt tablets, packages of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing packages, Military Payment Certificates, C provisions, and two or 3 canteens of water” (p. 596). Some troops took things with them that they did not really need and made their luggage much heavier.
Along with physical luggage, the troops brought emotional luggage. After Ted Lavender died, Lieutenant Cross felt like it was his fault and he must have appreciated his troops more than Martha. “He had loved Martha more than his guys, 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 battle they all had something that bothered them.
The story ends with the Lieutenant Cross hating Martha and becoming stricter with his troops. He did not wish to lose another soldier due to the fact that of some girl, and he comprehended that the soldiers may not favor him as much, however it was for their well-being. “Amongst males there would be grumbling, of course, and maybe worse; due to the fact that their days would appear longer and their loads heavier, however Lieutenant Jimmy Cross reminded himself that his obligation was not to be enjoyed however to lead” (p. 606).