Jimmy Cross Themes

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The idea of carrying is a significant one throughout The Things They Carried, and the title provides the fullest exploration of this idea. The thorough lists of objects that the men carry may seem tedious or irrelevant at times, but by insinuating that in addition to weapons soldiers brought simple, everyday things like cigarettes, candy and letters from their loved ones, O’Brien highlights their humanity. And in informing us of the exact weight of some of the items like food, weapons, and gear, he gives us a very perceivable idea of what it is like to struggle under such weight. But the soldiers carry more than just physical strains—in many instances, they are weighed down mentally as well. Jimmy Cross thinks that he carried thoughts of Martha…show more content…
Female characters like Mary Anne Belle, Martha, and Henry Dobbins’s girlfriend all affected the men of the company—even though in two of the cases, the women aren’t even with the men they’re affecting. The men glorify the women and use their presence—in phots, letters, and even their minds—as a kind of peace and reminder that a world exists beyond the excruciating realities of Vietnam. Jimmy Cross carries pictures of Martha and memories of their one date. He also carries the hope that she will return his love so that he has something to look forward to after the war. Dobbins carries his girlfriend’s pantyhose for a similar reason: to remind him of home and to distract him from the brutal reality of being the machine gunner in a group of soldiers. Fossie invites his girlfriend Mary Anne over to the war because he believes her presence will save him from the horror around him. These men do not think of these women as people with fears, thoughts, or needs. They see them as motivation to survive the war. But the women in The Things They Carried do not fulfill the fantasy role that the men create for them- at least not all of the time. When Cross returns from the war, he never wins Martha’s heart. Likewise, after a short while in Vietnam, Mary Anne Bell falls captive to its mystery and ends up leaving Fossie and breaking his heart. Sometimes, in the end, the true reality is not enough to affect the man holding a female illusion. Even after Dobbins’s girlfriend breaks up with him, he still believes her pantyhose will bring him good
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