Jimmy Cross: The things they carried
Jimmy Cross:The things they carriedRogers 1
10 March 2004
Jimmy Cross: Life Story
There is something special about human beings. Human beings have the capacity to sacrifice themselves for others. Not all do it and many do just the opposite. In the story “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’BRIEN, demonstrates that statement. Jimmy Cross, who is 1st lieutenant of his platoon, is a man of integrity and grace which unfortunately starts to diminish throughout his journey. Jimmy begins to fantasize of, “love” which starts to interfere with his daily life, subsequently leading to his excess amount of emotional baggage that he carries, but, ultimately he realizes his fault and he begins to reconstruct his outlook on life tremendously.
Fantasies, which are defined as fanciful or extravagant notions, ideas, or suppositions are things he often does while on his mission to victory. During the late afternoon hours, he would frequently climb into his foxhole and read his received letters from a girl named, Martha, that he absolutely adores. She sent him letters that he guarded with his dear life and kept secretly hidden from the other men. They weren’t by any means “love” letters, but he often imagined they were just for the spite of things. Jimmy read those letters every day and every night, paying no attention to what was going on around him, just focusing on Martha. Although, letters were the main source of his absence from the world around him, he would often imagine romantically, trips into the white mountains of New Hampshire while holding the letters in his hand. He would sometimes taste the flaps, knowing her tongue had been there (Obrein, “Carried” 272). Jimmy began to pass his days more quickly by trying to keep up his hope, while thinking
about being with Martha, somewhere in a beautiful place, alone, with nothing to worry about. Meanwhile, Jimmy received a pebble in one of the letters from Martha, which she picked up off the Jersey Shoreline just for Jimmy as a good luck charm. He carried the pebble in his mouth most of the time. While on other occasions, he would often slip away into daydreams, just pretending, walking barefoot along, the shoreline, with Martha, carrying nothing (O’brien, “Carried” 275). He fantasized daily about Martha; He wondered who she was with, and what she was doing. Although, Jimmy carried Martha’s pebble with him continuously, he began to carry much more than just a pebble in his mouth.
At times, Jimmy became overwhelmed with his fantasies, and instead started to come back into reality, which lead to his feelings of regret, remorse, guilt, shame, and blame. Ted Lavender, which was one of the men in Jimmy’s platoon was shot in the head on his way back from using the restroom. This incident leads jimmy to have numerous feelings of regret and remorse. He thought about what happened time and time again, thinking about what he could’ve done that day Ted Lavender was killed. His mind wandered (O’Brein, “Carried” 275). Jimmy often had trouble keeping his attention on the war (O’Brein, “Carried” 275). Martha, was on his mind constantly day in a day out. He sometimes thought of Martha’s smooth young face, thinking he loved her more than anything, more than his men, and now Ted Lavender was dead because he loved her so much and could not stop thinking about her (O’Brien, “Carried” 274). Shame is what Jimmy had started to take upon himself. Loving Martha more than his men was the main reason his acceptance of the blame because he believed it was initially his own mistake. Consequently, when a man dies there is usually blame on some part whether it be nature or some other factor in life. Jimmy cross understood this notion. He could blame the war. He could blame Kiowa for going to it. He could blame the enemy. He could blame god. He could blame an old
women in Omaha who forgot to vote. Jimmy Cross could’ve put the blame on any one of those factors; instead he put the blame on himself because he began to realize he needed to go forward in life, and change how he lead his men.
During the end of jimmy’s guilt and shame, he begins to restrengthen his life and make a changes for the better. Jimmy realizes the misconception he has of the “love” he carried for Martha. He ultimately sets his mind to the fact that in order to survive he needs to forget about his fantasies and bring the focus to his safety, as well as his men. It wasn’t that he wanted to, but it was the sense that he had to because he recognized that Martha did not love him an never would (O’Brien, “Carried” 279). He continues with “Martha had never mentioned the war, except to say, Jimmy take care of yourself” (O’Brien, “Carried” 272). She signed letters “love”, but it wasn’t anything close to the love he had for Martha, it was a platonic “love”. He knew all along that love was just a figure of speech and had a different meaning in the heart of Martha. Jimmy begin to believe that she had no idea what he was going through and probably never would. Even Though, Lavenders death tore Jimmy apart in the beginning, but Jimmy never would of realized his misconception if it would’ve happenend any other way than it did. That death changed Jimmy’s outlook on life about where he was and what he was doing. He was 1st lieutenant and had an obligation to do, which is to serve his country and protect and lead his men to safety. In that sense, with no strings attached Jimmy lifted his head high, and continued guiding his men, with no more fantasies or distractions that would block his train of thought.
Initially, Jimmy Cross started his mission with a distorted image in his head, which lead to his amazing turn around in the end. Jimmy cross had to learn the hard way, that fantasies aren’t real, they are just thoughts the mind wants to believe. He soon learned what reality was, even though it wasn’t the easiest or
most of all pleasurable, way to figure out the truth. Ted Lavender’s death was a blessing in the sense that Jimmy turned his whole life around and started to focus on what support to give his men to succeed and be better survivors, than Ted Lavender was. Jimmy cared for his men towards the end, that lead him to understand what love is. “Love”, is a very powerful word, that has the power and prestige to make some people zone out of their own world and live in fantasy land, as did Jimmy. Jimmy cross carried integrity and grace in the beginning of the story, but by the end added faith and hope to his nap sack that helped him become a better person for his men.