The Things They Carried

TheThings They Carried


Variousthemes emerge throughout the story ‘TheThings They Carried.’ Lovecomes to the surface when Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is shown carryingletters from Martha (O’Brien, 1998,p. 428). The lieutenant fantasizes about camping trips and tastes thewraps of the envelopes. In addition to the love theme, the idea ofobsession also comes to the fore. Although the Lieutenant is awarethat Martha does not have any feelings of intimacy toward him, hestill fantasizes about her and even proceeds to lick the envelopebecause he knew that Martha`s lips had been there.

Additionally,the author writes from a third person perspective. For instance,O`Brien states that the things that Lieutenant Cross and his teamcarried were based on necessity (O’Brien, 1998,p. 429). The writer, mostly, separates himself from the events thattranspire in the story. O`Brien`s approach brings the sentimentalvalue of various items to bear. For example, he writes that Crosscarried Martha`s photographs in his wallet because he loved her. Thewriter also reveals the hierarchical nature of the things that thesoldiers carried, for instance, Cross always had the compass, codebooks, maps, and binoculars with him because he was the leader of theplatoon. The other soldiers carried items such as PRC-25 radios,malaria tablets, and machine guns, depending on their positions inthe squad (O’Brien, 1998,p. 431).

Thetheme of love emerges somewhat obscurely. O’Brien asserts thatMartha did not have intimate feelings for the Lieutenant, yet shewrote him letters about all her experiences. For example, she wrotehim a letter about a pebble that she collected in the Jerseyshoreline (O’Brien, 1998,p. 431). Also, the writer contends that the soldiers carried theiritems because of superstitious beliefs (O’Brien, 1998,p. 438). However, earlier on, he had stated that the same individualsbrought their things to the war setting because of the sentimentalattachment that they placed on them (O`Brien, 1998,p. 431).


O`Brien,T. (1998). Thethings they carried.New York: Broadway Books.