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The Dilemma of Lieutenant Jimmy Cross in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” Essay


In Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Brought” First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is a 24 years of age boy in love with a woman named Martha, who is thrust into the jungles of Vietnam. Bring “the duty for the lives of his guys” but distracted by his dreams of Martha, catastrophe strikes his squadron and Ted Lavender is shot and eliminated. (p. 97). Lieutenant Cross grieves for Lavender, for Martha, for himself, as he cuts his musings “identified to perform his duties firmly and without carelessness.

” (p. 106).


The war was gruesome, relentless, dull, and purposeless. The men of Lieutenant Cross’s army carried everything they needed (and some things they did not) on their individuals as they “humped” it through the jungles of Vietnam (p. 98). They brought food, clothing, bedding, weapons, pictures, illness, parasites, wounded and dead associates, memories, reputations, dreams, and “the typical trick of cowardice hardly restrained” (p. 105). They brought things for various factors: option, requirement, home entertainment, superstition, or as a function of rank or field specialized.

PARAGRAPH Amongst his things, Lieutenant Cross brought memories, letters, pictures, and an all the best beauty from a young college student called Martha. Although they dated prior to the war, they only kissed briefly, and her letters brought news of a “separate-but-together quality” they shared (p. 99). He knew that just because she signed her letters like Martha did not indicate she was in love with him, however he was enthusiastic. He frequently lost himself in dreams of her, questioning her virginity and what “her truest feelings were” (p. 99).

He moved gradually and distractedly discovering it challenging to keep his mind on war and his men’s security. His mind continually roamed to thoughts of “Martha’s smooth young face, believing he loved her more than anything, more than his males, and now Ted Lavender was dead due to the fact that he loved her a lot and might not stop thinking about her” (p. 99). He was young and in love and could not assist it however he was ashamed and hated himself too. PARAGRAPH Among his things, Ted Lavender who was scared, brought tranquilizers, premium dope and extra ammo, needs for him.

On the day he was shot and killed, he had simply popped a tranquilizer and gone off to pee. Captured by a bullet to the head, in the act of zipping up, he went down immediately, under an exceptional problem of “unweighed worry” and extra bullets (p. 99). PARAGRAPH “The morning after Ted Lavender passed away, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross crouched at the bottom of his trench and burned Martha’s letters. Then he burned the 2 photographs” (p. 105). He recognized that visions of unrequited love had no place in this headache world he called truth.

He knew that this nostalgic gesture could not burn the blame he felt for Lavender’s death, however perhaps it would keep the remainder of the squad alive. PARAGRAPH Lieutenant Jimmy Cross’s dilemma arose from the natural impulses of a young man in love paired with the constant obligations of a combat officer. Following Lavender’s death he understood “that his obligation was not to be loved but to lead” (p. 107). A heavy burden to bring certainly. He swore to himself diligence to his officer’s duties, completely intending to run a tight ship regardless of the problems of his men.

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