Things They Carried Essay: Strength in The Things They Carried

Things They Carried Essay: Strength in The Things They Carried

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Strength in The Things They Carried     

Everybody has to deal with adversity at some point in their lives. The adversity that they go through varies from person to person. For First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, he had to make it through the Vietnam War alive. In the short story, "The Things They Carried," where Cross draws his strength from is somewhat unclear. He seems strong at the beginning of the story, but then again, he also seems to be gaining strength towards the end of the story. This paper shows two different points of view. It discusses whether Jimmy Cross is a stronger person at the beginning of the story or at the end of the story.

One opinion is that First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is stronger before he burns the pictures of Martha. His strength comes from his connections to the outside world. Martha is his link to life away from the war. This is why it is important that "Martha never mentioned the war, except to say, Jimmy, take care of yourself. She wasn't involved" (O'Brien 403-404). She symbolizes all that he left behind, and all that he hopes to someday return to: innocence, comfort, love, and hope. These hopes and dreams are the things that keep him sane; they keep him more human and less of a war machine. He shows his strength by attaching himself to these things and by keeping himself partly detached from the violence surrounding him. He has the amazing ability to admit to himself that, "he was just a kid at war, in love. He was twenty-two years old. He couldn't help it" (397). By having the strength to see this reality, he fights against war's power to consume a person's whole identity.

However, by deciding that, "henceforth, when he thought about Martha, it would be only to think that she belonged...

... middle of paper ..., to a man who now realizes his job, and will make damn sure to get it done right.

Both of the points of view are valid arguments. Both are well thought out and have good evidence to back them up. So which one is the right one? Well, that's the great thing about short stories like "The Things They Carried," they are open to interpretation. The reader is the one to decide what it means to them. The point of this paper was to present two different arguments from two different readers. These points of view were both able to answer the question, was Jimmy Cross stronger at the beginning of the story or at the end of the story, in their own way.

Work Cited

O'Brien, Tim. "The Things They Carried." Literature and Its Writers: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd ed. Ed. Ann Charters and Samuel Charters. Boston: Bedford, 2001. Pg. 392-405.


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