The Things They Carried Essay

Submitted By kayjcald
Words: 778
Pages: 4

The Things They Carried Critical Theories/Themes The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien represents many different critical theories throughout the novel. O’Brien reflects on his experience in the Vietnam War. He also tells the reader about the people that were there with him. In the novel, the Marxist theory is very relevant. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross was very pre-occupied during the war with his girlfriend Martha. All he did was think about her and the letters she sent him. He would put his men at risk because he wasn’t following proper safety rules. The death of Ted Lavender hit Lieutenant Cross hard because it happened at a time when he was paying much attention to the men. Lavender was shot in the head on his way back from the bathroom (pg. 12). Lieutenant Cross felt like it was his fault that Lavender was killed. Many years after the war, Lieutenant Cross still blames himself for Ted Lavender’s death. He met with O’Brien and when saw a picture of Ted Lavender. O’Brien said, “Jimmy rubbed his eyes and said he’d never forgiven himself for Lavender’s death (pg. 27).” Even O’Brien said he felt the same way about certain things. They were both in a state of “dystopia.” Jimmy Cross couldn’t get this terrible feeling out of his head. The feeling could be compared to “hell.” There are many archetypal criticisms in the novel as well. Linda was Tim O’Brien’s friend and “first love” when he was nine years old. She had cancer and many of the kids at school teased her for always wearing a hat (pg. 233). However, O’Brien was always there for her. He stuck by her side until the day she passed away. Linda is considered an archetype in this novel because she represents O’Brien’s past that can be brought back through his stories and dreams. After Linda’s funeral, O’Brien would lie in bed at night and “make up elaborate stories to bring Linda alive…” He could see Linda still alive in his dreams because of his imagination (pg. 243). His daydreams helped him cope through Linda’s death. Tim O’Brien’s childhood experiences help explain why he has turned to storytelling as a coping method. The Things They Carried also represents many themes of war. Many of the soldiers that were in the Vietnam War bonded with each other as if they were one big family. Some soldiers struggled with the experience more than others. The theme fog of war represents the soldiers who were unsure about what to do. Norman Bowker was a quiet, young soldier from Central Iowa who was constantly trying to live up to his father’s expectations. He was with his friend, Kiowa, when he died in the swamp. Years after the war he still felt that he couldn’t relate to anyone back home, so he hanged himself in the locker room of local YMCA in his hometown. He wrote to