loss of innocence in the things they carried

loss of innocence in the things they carried

Knowles carries the theme of the inevitable loss of innocence throughout the entire novel. Several characters in the novel sustain both positive and negative changes, resulting from the change of the peaceful summer sessions at Devon to the reality of World War II. While some characters embrace their development through their loss of innocence, others are at war with themselves trying to preserve that innocence. Knowles foreshadows the boys’ loss of innocence through the war, and their constant jumps…

Innocence is used to show how a person can show self-control and restriction. However, when it comes to loss of innocence, the body gives in to anything, temptation, sin, and many others. In the poem, “Loss of Innocence” (Stewart), innocence becomes useless as other problems take over, in place of innocence. It is almost as if “Innocence swept away” (Stewart) and as a replacement, “Sinful satisfaction sweeps over”(Stewart). The loss of innocence requires time, like in the book Tuesdays with Morrie…

Loss of Innocence in Wordsworth's Nutting Essay

A Loss of Innocence in Wordsworth's "Nutting" A romantic poet, William Wordsworth examines the relationship between the individual and nature. In the poem "Nutting," Wordsworth focuses on the role that innocence plays in this relationship as he describes a scene that leads to his own coming of age. Unlike many of his other poems, which reveal the ability to experience and access nature in an innocent state, "Nutting" depicts Wordsworth's inability as a young boy to fully appreciate nature, causing…

Loss of Innocence in Hamlet Essay

Loss of Innocence in Hamlet Hamlet is a character that we love to read about and analyze. His character is so realistic, and he is so romantic and idealistic that it is hard not to like him. He is the typical young scholar facing the harsh reality of the real world. In this play, Hamlet has come to a time in his life where he has to see things as they really are. Hamlet is an initiation story. Mordecai Marcus states "some initiations take their protagonists across a threshold of…

Many people experience the loss of innocence every day because it’s just a natural thing. One way that people loss their innocence is through the violence of war. Most people in a war will come unto the fact that it’s a kill or be killed kind of thing. Everyone would naturally choose to kill another man and that’s how many people in a war end up losing their innocence. Another way that people lose their innocence is when they witness the death of someone else. In the book “Fallen Angels,” Lieutenant…

Innocence is usually associated with youth and ignorance. The loss of one's innocence is associated with the evils of the world. However, the term "innocence" can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Similarly, the loss of one's innocence can be interpreted in more than one way, and, depending on the interpretation, it may happen numerous times. The loss of innocence is culture specific and involves something that society holds sacrosanct. It is also bounded by different religious beliefs.…

Essay on Araby(loss Of Innocence)

Loss Of Innocence In James Joyce’s Araby the boys loss of innocence may be confusing and even painful but at the same time it is important . It begins his journey into adulthood . The boy in Araby is experiencing something all young men experience , the first crush . It is a time in his life where he is having new feelings, and trying to express those feelings to the object of his affection is next to impossible . Even the simple act of watching Mangan’s sister brings up emotions in the boy .…

Loss of Innocence in Lord of the Flies Essay

Loss of Innocence in Lord of the Flies Within the novel innocence is progressively lost through the boys. The boys were placed in a situation where they had no other choice but to grow up, and grow up fast. These boys were put in a very traumatic situation and they had to learn on their own and from each other how to survive and almost create a thriving society all on their own. Slowly they learn that their needs to be a leader, but there are no adults to precede the role of authority. Therefore…

believing that money and luck indicate one’s level of happiness. William Golding’s novel tries to show that all children are evil and have savage impulses. A common theme in both of these works is that children create their own downfall and loss of innocence. In D.H. Lawrence’s The Rocking Horse Winner, Paul is searching for an identity and love. Paul’s mother was incapable of love; “when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard.” Paul’s mother desires materialistic…

Loss of Innocence in Sarah´s Key

Loss of Innocence A child is known for having innocence, and bad experiences strip kids of it. In Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay, experiences cause a loss of innocence due to loss of freedom, loss of hope, and loss of family. Freedom is a right that allows humans to live life to the fullest. In society when a child has no basic rights of freedom, it causes them to grow up and lose their innocence. In Sarah’s Key, Sirka describes how she feels at the camp: “The girl noticed a handful…

Coffee in hand. Halfway through a Nic Cage film. Welcome to my world.

#BEDN27 (Warning: May need tissues as the post contains emotional content. I cried)

As young children, we are so eager to grow up. We crave a feeling of maturity and self-importance.

But there comes a time in our life when we reach that level of understanding where we’ve witnessed something we didn’t expect to, and in turn, wish we could wind back the clock to the simpler days. The simpler days where our biggest worry was what to call the new goldfish or if mam would see you sneaking to get another cookie.

In one of my favourite books, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the many events that occur illustrate the irreplaceable loss of a child’s bare naivety and innocence. Two adventurous and light-spirited children, Jem and Scout, begin to realise what innocence is, and the loss of it through the course of events in their small town.

It seems that once the veil of childhood is lifted, we begin to see and think of people and differently, as the children in the book did. We as innocent children don’t know anything but what we’re taught, what’s right and wrong, black and white. It’s only as we get older, we lose ourselves in the obscure midsections of grey.

It is said that experiences make you who you are a person. It’s also said that with hardship comes maturity, and with maturity comes the opening of innocent eyes and minds, which brings the age-old question, is growing up worth the expense of pure naivety?

Knowledge acquired seems to equal innocence lost.

I asked a good friend of mine what he thought about ‘loss of innocence’ and he replied with something that rang true in my head: “It seems like you could take almost any situation where “They’ve lost their innocence..” is applicable and simply replace it with something like “They’ve gained new knowledge..” Suddenly a loss is a gain and a negative becomes a positive”

Traditionally, when someone is said to have ‘lost’ their innocence, it has a lot to do with some sort of event that carries a revelation. They acquire knowledge of some sort. That knowledge, however big or small, changes things or at least the way you think forever. Does that mean that innocence itself implies a certain carefree lack of knowledge?

I decided to ask a couple of more friends about this, about what they thought and it meant to them. Is it a process you can only go through in your childhood? Can you lose your innocence more than once? And this is what they said…

A – I think a significant turning point in my life was walking into the kitchen one morning when I was six years old and being surprised that my mum was there when I expected her to be at work. She told me very carefully that she, my sister and I would shortly be leaving and going to live with my grandparents. Naturally, my first response was to enquire as to whether my Dad would be joining us. She crouched down so we were on an even eyeline and told me that he would be staying at the house.

Being far too young to appreciate what a divorce was, I consented, but remember thinking that something was terribly wrong. Normally, this would be the sort of thing I would immediately bounce off one of my parents, but there was a moment when I looked up at her and saw something in her eyes – a mixture of sadness and trepidation – and I closed my mouth. Somehow I knew that voicing my concern was not the thing to do. Instead, I hugged her and then went back upstairs. Granny and Grandpa were lovely but, with the exception of a set of Tom and Jerry videos I had delightedly watched to death, their house was largely devoid of children’s entertainment. If I was about to leave, I was damn sure going to secure as many toys and books as possible.

Looking back on it, that was one of the first moments where I felt like I had to grow up and be something I wasn’t ready to be, but had to by necessity. My first real indication (as far as I recall) that the world around me was very far removed from the Enid Blyton books I habitually devoured.

L – I had to think about this for quite a while because for me, it was more of a slow realisation into adulthood that I think I lost my innocence.

Going to university was a huge step in the process of growing up. At home you’re used to having your parents cook for you, wash up and clean the house, but when you’re living in shared accommodation or students halls, you’re suddenly expected to know what this thing called a ‘cleaning rota’ is when it’s thrust upon you. But you got used to it and it event became fun when you share the workload with your housemates, who become your friends. And anything that went wrong or broke in the house or halls could easily be fixed by the landlord or local handyman. So really, I was growing up and becoming more independent without even realising it.

But I think the moment struck me one day as if a lightbulb went off in my head. I am now an adult. After university, I moved in with my other half. Shopping for everything in the flat was fun because it meant that it was all new. New TV, new washing machine, new sofa, etc. But, one day the washing machine broke. It was a bit of a sharp reality because I didn’t have a clue what to do. I mean, what do you do. When something goes wrong your instinct is to call your mum. I felt really alone because I had to sort it out. It was my responsibility, because for once it wasn’t going to get magically fixed by the parental fairy!

N – I lost my innocence when I was six years old, as my parents’ marriage gradually came to an end. We put them on such a high pedestal (it’s like an innate act) and the moment something shakes them up and we see them stumbling, we suddenly sit up and become more aware of THEM – as people. Man and woman. Not just mum and dad. To me that’s when a layer of naivety peeled off.

In the lead up to their separation, I saw certain things that would go on to mould the angry and resentful teenager that I became (unbeknownst to the world – of course). But back then before such emotions evolved/developed, it was confusion that I felt. Heartbreak. Sadness. Loss. Of my family. Of the mum and dad that I thought I knew. That little girl changed forever. What’s worse is that she knew how to disguise it all. At six years old. To the world she was just an adventurous, cheeky and fun kid.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that it happened because so much happened in so little time. Before we knew it, we (me,my brother and my mother) had moved out of the family home and into this apartment and we went months without seeing our dad – who before then I’d spend the most time with. I was a daddy’s girl. So the life that we’d always known was ripped from under our feet. Just like that. My train of thoughts began to change course (or track,lol) right then. Looking back on it now I was aware of concepts that we only come to know later in life. While I’m still very far from being innocent, I am definitely more carefree – more childlike now than I was then. Funny that.

S – “Without a doubt the time I feel I lost an irrevocable part of my innocence, occurred early on in my life, as I suspect happens to most. When I was younger, no more than five, my father, mother, brother and I used to stay with my grandfather, in his house in Warminster.

The land all rich rolling green fields, with rivers ribboning through. My father used to bring his shotgun, and my twin and I would stand in rapt awe as paper targets perched metres away in the trees disintegrated in riotous noise and smoke. It was on such a day, as we stood on a field sloping down to forest, that my father spotted two wood-pigeons dart over the treetops moving towards us. This was fortuitous, as the conversation earlier in the day had turned to how good eating they were.

He shouldered the rifle, and his aim was true. I’ll always remember this fluttering, ragged thing falling through the air, looking nothing like the graceful thing darting smoothly through the sky it had been only moments before. It landed hard, and fluttered and flapped in distress on the ground, so my father levelled the rifle and fired the other shell into it. On closer inspection of the pitiful ball of white feathers, It wasn’t a wood-pigeon, it was a dove.

It was this realisation that stopped the animal becoming some target, but a real living creature, capable of fear and pain and mortality. And finality. And it was this realisation that made my brother and I bawl regretful tears as we buried the bird, in that sloping field, with a flower we’d picked from the rosebushes ourselves.

S – When I first thought about this post, I had an entirely different story come to mind that I was originally going to write about. It helped me get an A* in my English GCSE when they asked for a ‘loss of innocence’ story, and I mentioned it in my Secret Stash of Coke post earlier this month. The story about us as kids finding treasure in the back garden, only to find out years later that it was my dad who had buried it there for us to find. We thought it was genuine treasure. We’d spent those couple of years with a hidden secret that we had uncovered a goldmine, but were at a loss to find out it wasn’t worth anything. But, thinking about it, is it really a loss of innocence if you realise we didn’t actually lose anything apart from maybe pride? Instead, we gained more affection towards our father who wanted us to be happy finding that treasure.

So I thought about the whole loss of innocence thing some more until my brain began to hurt and I realised I was crying. The only thing I could think about was my dad. And losing him. It’s the thing I’d never have expected to happen, ever, and it’s affected me more than I could ever imagine. Realising he’s never going to walk through the door again was a huge shock to the system, that to me was the moment I lost my innocence. The moment I realised that life would never be the same again. It felt like someone had pulled the rug from under my feet and my life was no longer stable. It still feels like that. I won’t have my dad to walk me down the aisle, or have him to dance with at my wedding, or see him cry when I get to tell him he’s going to be a grandfather. That’s all he ever wanted.

The moment the house stood silent without his laughter or obnoxious jokes changed everything. It changed us all. The children of the house quickly became adults in an instant. It was now our responsibility to look after the house and to take care of our mam. That week he died, everything broke in the house. It’s funny now looking back, but the kettle broke, the washing machine, clothes dryer and the dishwasher. I think maybe the hoover and the hot water too. Like my blonde friend above, we felt alone. Normally my dad would fix everything in his own way but where was he now?

When I see something funny or have received some news – good or bad – I’ve always picked up the phone to call him, but now I can’t. So many things I wanted to say and thank him for. But I can’t. Life will never be the same again.

The Things They Carried Themes

Courage and the cult of manhood are familiar themes from earlier war novels and stories, but O'Brien turns the concept completely on its head. In "On a Rainy River," he describes how he forced himself into the "courageous9quot; act of going to war through shaming himself by imagining what others would think of him if he did not go. Once in Vietnam, the idea of courage becomes laughable. Everyone jumps at the slightest noise, everyone fears for their life. Macho characters like Curt Lemon seem absurd to O'Brien, because O'Brien believes no one is actually courageous. It is a physical impossibility.

The Vietnam War was mostly a man's war, and this book is populated mostly by men. But the adolescent soldiers are obsessed by sex, and miss their virgin girlfriends desperately. The one soldier who ships in his girlfriend sees the relationship go horribly sour, so he is sexually frustrated, too. Yet the promise of women is always in the air; one of the draws of going to Japan are the cute nurses there. In fact, nurses are the ultimate sex symbol, because they are one of the few sexual outlets open to the men. But they are scarce, and sexual longing becomes just another source of tension.

The single uniting theme of this book lies in the burdens that soldiers bear, both physical and emotional. The title points this out, and most of the stories -- in one way or another -- are about burdens the war forces upon the soldiers. The burdens almost always seem too much for them to carry. Jimmy Cross is responsible for the lives of all of his soldiers, but he is unable to keep all of them alive. The soldiers carry drugs and lucky pantyhose and Bibles but most of these fail to keep them safe. Many of their burdens seem primal, almost biblical. "Well, that's Nam," says one character. "Garden of Evil. Over here, man, every sin's real fresh and original" (76). Part of the reason the burdens seem unbearable, the evil so fresh, is that the men are so young. They have many more years to carry the same burdens. Tim O'Brien must carry the burden of having killed a man for the rest of his life.

Religion is something some of the soldiers carry around with them, like a talisman that may have the ability to save them. But the most religious character, Kiowa, ends up dead, face-down in a shit field. Similarly horrific things happen to the non-religious, too. War and death seem to make no distinction. The value of religion seems not to be preservative, but rather as an indicator of how decent the men may be while still alive. Especially in “Church,” the two most decent men turn out to be the company’s two most religious men: Henry Dobbins and Kiowa. As for superstitions, most of the soldiers believe in them. O’Brien writes that it was difficult not to be superstitious in a country as "spooky9quot; as Vietnam. The superstitions give the soldiers some illusion of control. By adhering to certain traditions they think they can control their own fates. This, like the promise of religion in the book, turns out to be an illusion.

The Vietnam War was the least popular war of all time among the American public. But it was also deeply unpopular among the soldiers themselves, most of whom were drafted. More than 50 percent of troops engaged in active disobedience, much politically motivated. Discontent is threaded through O’Brien’s account of the war, although his comrades don’t seem particularly political. Instead, they are escapist. They play checkers, they smoke dope, they watch movies, and they masturbate to Jane Fonda. They will do anything to take their mind off war. The very premise of The Things They Carried involves the the things the soldiers are forced to carry, many against their will, as well as the small talismans or entertainments the soldiers hang onto to engage in escapism from a terrible situation. For O’Brien, writing is a form of escapism. As he writes in the last story in the book, he thinks and hopes that through this particular form of escape he can make the impossible happen. In this form of escape he can make the dead live again.

The Vietnam War both defiles and preserves the innocence of those who participate. Most of the men at war are young, not yet twenty. Many have peachy skin and blonde hair. But O'Brien is relentless about pointing out that although they are young and innocent, they are killers. They kill on command, which makes their crimes seem somehow mitigated. But there is also the sense that they are in a primordial jungle of sorts and are somehow inventing evil anew each day. Perhaps the clearest parable of the loss of innocence is the story "The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong", in which a young blonde soldier's girlfriend is brought over from America only to become intoxicated with Vietnam and become a killer.

In the quagmire of an incomprehensible war, one imperative is clear-cut: revenge. Revenge is not trained on the enemy. The soldiers have little to no sense of what the enemy has done “wrong.” So they wreak revenge on one another. The central motivation of “Enemies” is the standoff between two friends, one of whom seeks physical revenge. Revenge seems to be one of the few emotions other than shame that drive the young O’Brien when he is a soldier. “The Ghost Soldiers” is all about the revenge O’Brien wreaks on a young medic who he thinks didn’t treat him in time when he was wounded. (One of the most gripping qualities of the book is the narrator’s honesty about his own shortcomings.) His greed for revenge is fueled by an unattractive sense of his own worth. It blinds him, distorts his morals, and makes him temporarily seem a monster in the reader’s eyes. But he does not flinch at recalling his actions, nor does he decline to tell them to the reader.

The Things They Carried Ben Cornelius The story “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien is an enormously detailed fictional account of a wartime scenario in which jimmy Cross (the story’s main character) grows as a person, and the emotional and physical baggage of wartime are brought to light. The most obvious and prominent feature of O’Brien’s writing is a repetition of detail. O’brien also passively analyzes the effects of wartime on the underdeveloped psyche by giving the reader close up insight into common tribulations of war, but not in a necessarily expositorial sense..

He takes us into the minds of mere kids as they cope with the unbelievable and under-talked-about effects or rationalizing death, discomfort and loneliness as well as the themes of heroism, physical and mental pain, and a loss of innocence. Obrien achieves this through extended description, imagery and tone coupled with an intimate relationship with the stories main characters. O’brien repeatedly states what each soldier is carrying for two reasons. The first reason is character development.

The more the reader knows about a character’s possessions the more he/she effectively knows about the characters themselves. An example of this would be how Cross carries a picture of a girl, fantasizing whether or not she is a virgin. Dobbins carries extra rations and his girlfriend’s pantyhose around his neck. This implies superstition and an above average weight. Ted Lavender carries weed and tranquilizers to placate his anxiety. This suggests an inability to cope with death or violence; perhaps wartime as a whole.

Finally Kiowa carries an illustrated copy of the new testament and a knife given to him by his father. These possessions allude to the fact that he is a man of god with a respect for his father. I think it id ironic, though, that all of these men’s non-military items are of no real consequence in the war. They don’t do anything. It could be argued that these items are a mode of escapism for the military men. that it helps them cope mentally. I, however, would argue to the contrary, I think that all of these hometown relics only really provide anguish.

They serve only as a tangible reminder of what they are missing and who will miss them if they fall to the earth in the war. Character growth is also essential to the story. In the beginning Cross fantasized about a girl named Martha. He fantasizes weather or not she is a virgin and subsequently, fantasizes about different ways to take her virginity. This fantasy consumes him until the day his best friend and army compatriot, Lavender, dies. Cross believes Lavenders death to be his fault and decides to put his fantasies to rest and assume, fully, a position of true leadership.

This change in character is also marked by Cross’ destruction of the picture. The destruction of fantasy is also significant in that it shows Cross’ transition from boyhood into man hood. The primary difference between childhood and adulthood is the burden of responsibilities. At a certain point every young adult must submit to these or be a failure. This submission is a melancholy time as it marks the end of unbridled optimism and the beginning of pragmatism. For Cross, this change is especially melancholy because the catalyst for his change was the death of a loved one.

Cross loss of innocence here is, however, not singular in the sense of the story. Cross’ loss of innocence is symbolic the loss of innocence that all of his soldiers must face. But even more so, it is symbolic of the lost innocence of whole generations and their countries. In any wartime scenario the youth of feuding countries must put aside innocence and take on the morbid responsibility of death and war. They must start to understand the complex nature of extremely volatile geopolitical relationships and put their own nature aside to assume the identity of a nation.

An identity which is intrinsically corrupted. As a reader I was very much disturbed at Cross’ loss of innocence. After Lavender dies, Cross crouches in his foxhole in the rain and burns the two pictures of Mary that he has as well as the letters. I think that the symbolism of rain here is really poten,t but also carries contradictory messages to the reader. Rain in general, is a symbol of purification, but I think in this context it is also symbolic of extreme sadness and depression. I like the fact that, through personification, the rain could represent innocence trying to preserve itself.

This means that he rain itself doesn’t want cross to burn the pictures. Also, in the aforementioned contradictory sense, the rain also represents the extreme sadness that is accompanied by crosses loss. It is also important to note that this loss of innocence is supplemented by an image of death. When Cross burns the pictures and letters it could be viewed as cremation. I felt the same sense of loss while reading this as the bereaved would feel. This part of the story represents a very literal death of innocence. In the same paragraph Cross explains that he now Hates Mary.

Because in Cross’ mind Mary is responsible for his own distraction and thus the death of Lavender. He says that he still loves her, but in a hating kind of way. This shows that when Cross lost his innocence, he also lost his ability to harbor pure love. Now all his future love will be tinged with the sadness and pain of his first love. His purest love. The tone of “The Things They Carries” is very much dark and foreboding. To support the tone of the story Obrien uses dark color schemes and dark emotional schemes as well as the weather and setting.

O’brien writes “kiowa shook his head sadly and glanced over at the hole where Lieutenant Jimmy Cross sat watching the night. The air was thick and wet. A warm dense fog had settled over the paddies and there was the stillness that precedes rain. ” Here, O’brien uses the weather to show the melancholy of the situation. The reader is enveloped by a sense of loss and fright. The stillness that precedes rain suggests that the soldiers have not yet accepted Lavenders death. They are in denial. They are still innocent in their denial. Only upon acceptance will they be able to lose their innocence and become real soldiers.

The thick air is indicative of emotional and physical oppression. Physically the soldiers have to deal with illness heat and discomfort. But mentally they have to deal with the fact that, if they are to accept their emotions it would be overwhelming, therefor not an option. They would squint into the dense, oppressive sunlight. “For a few moments, perhaps, they would fall silent, lighting a joint and tracking its passage from man to man, inhaling, holding in the humiliation. ” O’Brien writes of the emotional oppression as a means to avoid humiliation.

The Things They Carried Essay Examples

The Things They Carried Essay: The Objectifying of Intangibles

Tim O’Brien’s 1990, The Things They Carried, is a collection of interconnected short stories that retell the adventures of the men of the Vietnam War’s Alpha Company. O’Brien’s experience as a foot soldier from 1968 to 1970 has given him an insiders perspective to the war and it is this perspective that the author shares through the characters he creates.

The author uses the objects the soldiers of the book carry to share this experience. “By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself” (1990, p. 158) writes O’Brian. Through the various objects the soldiers keep the author manifests the feelings of that make up the realities of war. “They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing — these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight” (O’Brien, 1990, pp. 21–22).

Each of the men had his own emotions to bare. The First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, the caring leader of the platoon carries photographs and letters written by the girl he had left back home. The heroic medic, Bob “Rat” Kiley has his comic books, candy, and bottle of brandy. Norman Bowker the quiet Iowa boy brings along his diary and a severed thumb taken from the body of a dead Viet Cong. Far from his Oklahoma home, the Native American, Kiowa holds tight to his bible and a hatchet given to him by his grandfather. And tied to his neck, the imposing machine gunner, Henry Dobbins styles a pair of pantyhose once worn by his girl.

To a man, O’Brien placed a collection of tangible items that in truth represented an emotional state, his emotional state, the emotional states of war. The author objectified these heavy emotions and distributed them to the men of Alpha Company to carry. All of this making up the “tangible weight” (O’Brien, 1990, p. 22) of war.

O’Brien, T. (1990). The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction (First Mariner books edition). Boston: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The Things They Carried essay sample was prepared by one of EssayShark newly registered writers to show his/her writing skills and professionalism. We’ve chosen this book as it is the one that is studied in various countries in the course of literature studies. This particular paper sample was aimed to describe the importace of personal belongings in the book. You can take advantage of the presented ideas, but don’t use any of them in personal purposes to avoid plagiarism.

Here is one more essay sample dedicated to this book.

Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried Essay: The Role of Women

The Things They Carried is a collection of small autobiographical stories by American writer Tim O’Brien. Although all the stories describe the author’s memories of the Vietnam War, they include female characters that play an important part in the book. Martha expresses love and danger; Mary Anne Bell loss of innocence, and Linda memory and death. Despite the fact that the leitmotif of the stories is war and death, female characters represent significant human values and emotions.

One of the most meaningful female characters is Martha, who appears in the first story The Things They Carried and symbolizes love and danger. A novel describes the story of Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, who keeps memories of his friend Martha, whom he met in a college. He keeps all her letters and photographs and often thinks whether she dates with other guys. In fact, Jimmy understands that Martha does not love him and gives him false hope. One day the Alpha Company leaves for an operation, but even there the lieutenant cannot concentrate and thinks about his distant love. At this time, his friend Lavender gets injured, and after a while, he dies. This event makes Jimmy Cross to reflect on the unrequited love for Martha and to analyze the consequences of his obsessive thoughts about her. In this story, Martha symbolizes love, as the most valuable human feeling, and danger, since this attitude leads to tragic consequences. She expresses a magic love that resists the brutal reality of war. Ultimately, this unfulfilling dream of Martha, the hopes for a future life with her lead to the fact that the lieutenant is constantly distracted by thoughts about the object of his desire, even at the most critical moment. With this story, the author makes a statement that in the war the soldiers should focus on their actions, on what is happening at the current moment and not be distracted by the ghostly memories of the past, as this can cost a human life. Therefore, the character of Martha symbolizes a confrontation between love and danger, fantasy and the cruel reality of life.

Another major female character is Mary Anne Bell, who appears in the novel “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” and symbolizes the loss of innocence. This story describes the decision of soldier Mark Fossie to bring his girl to the Vietnam War. The author describes Mary Anne as a beautiful, curious girl in nice clothes. But with a stay in Vietnam, she transforms into a real warrior: she studies the local language, communicates with other soldiers and learns how to handle weapons. This story is a symbol of the transformation of all soldiers in the war, as they come there innocent and inexperienced guys and become entirely different, strong and tempered men. The author draws a parallel between how Mary Anne loses her femininity on her arrival in Vietnam, and soldiers lose their innocence in the war. It is also worth noting that Mary Anne is the only female character who directly participates in the novel’s events. Thus, Mary Anne Bell symbolizes the loss of innocence of all soldiers who go through the horrors of war.

The character of Linda appears in the last story “The Lives of the Dead” and signifies the death and human memory. The last story of the book depicts the writer’s memories of his first love. Being at war, he thinks of his classmate Linda, with whom he once went to the cinema. He was in love with her but later discovered that she had a severe, incurable illness. After a while, Linda died, and O’Brien remembers how he went to the funeral and saw her corpse. The author thinks of this event as the first experience of death in his life and analyzes it in the context that memory is capable of giving eternal life to people who once were dear to the heart. Dead people can revive in literature and Linda’s death gives a push to O’Brien to write stories about the experience of war. The author asserts the idea that memory makes a person immortal since it allows to perpetuate his traits into various types of art. In the last novel, O’Brien summarizes that all the stories presented in the book are not about the war, but about the comprehension of life through the death of other people. Therefore, Linda symbolizes death, eternal life and the function of memory in art.

In conclusion, The Things They Carried is an autobiographical collection of novels written by Tim O’Brien about the Vietnam War. Although the main characters of the stories are soldiers of the war, female characters also play a significant role in this book. Martha symbolizes the opposition of love and danger, fantasy and reality, Mary Anne Bell-loss of the innocence of soldiers after the war, and Linda-death and eternal life. Female characters express important life values and fill the book with different emotions.

Gratch, Ariel. “Teaching Identity Performance Through Tim O’Brien’s Things They Carried.” Communication Teacher, vol 29, no. 2, 2015, pp. 71-75. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/17404622.2014.1001418.

Milbrodt, Teresa. “War and Routine Violence in “The Things They Carried”.” Pleiades: Literature In Context, vol 36, no. 1, 2016, pp. 168-169. Johns Hopkins University Press, doi:10.1353/plc.2016.0068.

O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.

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