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The Thins They Carried

In “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien women present an antithesis to war with its atrocities, hatred and cruelty. They embody “love and lightness” for soldiers, as Lieutenant Jimmy Cross thinks of his Martha (O’Brien, 2002, p. 710). They present a kind of moral resort for soldiers who escape from the realities of war thinking about women with their tenderness, love and peace. In the story, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross constantly thinks of the girl he loves. Among all the load of things he carries, there are also letters from this girl, Martha, her two photographs, and a good-luck charm sent to him by Martha.

These things are the symbols of his connection with that world that seems almost unreal here, among the Vietnam paddies. Martha “belonged to another world, which was not quite real” (O’Brien, 2002, p. 714), but Ted Lavender had to die before Jimmy realized that. Before that, he was simply “a kid at war, in love” (O’Brien, 2002, p. 712) and “had difficulty keeping his attention on the war” (O’Brien, 2002, p. 710). Instead of thinking of the dangers of war, Jimmy Cross constantly thinks about Martha, recalls how he kissed her and touched her knee and regrets that he did not do more.

He cares more about his “dense, crushing love” (O’Brien, 2002, p. 711) and “if Martha was a virgin” (O’Brien, 2002, p. 706) than of the soldiers that he is in charge of, and the retribution is ruthless: “as a consequence Lavender was now dead, and this was something he would have to carry like a stone in his stomach for the rest of the war” (O’Brien, 2002, p. 714). Finally, he realizes that Martha and love have nothing to do with the current realities, and burns her letters and photos, but even this “gesture” does no help, because “the letters were in his head” (O’Brien, 2002, p. 717).

Thus, the image of Martha symbolizes here all the hopes of soldiers and all their striving for peace and love. Women are traditionally recognized as domestic goddesses and the embodiment of values of love and care. This is exactly what the men lacked so much in the war. The Narrator’s Confessions in “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the obviously insane narrator constantly states that he is absolutely mentally healthy and only “dreadfully nervous” (Poe, 2002, p. 36). In fact, this statement only proves his insanity, as mentally sick people often do not recognize their disorder.

The narrator begins his confession with the denial of the assumption that he is insane, he states that the disease had simply “sharpened” his senses (Poe, 2002, p. 36). He supports this claim by describing how wise and deliberately he fulfills his intention to kill the old man: he was kind to the old man, he was very careful when he was coming to see the man sleeping, he concealed the body with all possible precautions, and he was so wise as to be calm and welcoming with the police officers. In this sense, he really committed the crime in full control of his powers.

Yet, there is no explanation but insanity and paranoia for the very intention of the murder and for its motifs. The narrator “had no desire” for the man’s wealth; he even states that he “loved” him (Poe, 2002, p. ). The only reason for the murder was the old man’s “pale blue eye” that irritated the narrator to an inconceivable degree. He was obsessed with it. This is definitely a symptom of paranoia. He comes to the old man’s bedroom every night during seven days, and there is no rational reason for this. He could not kill the man when his eye was closed – “for it was not the old man who vexed me but his Evil Eye” (Poe, 2002, p.

). This obsession with the man’s eye proves the narrator’s insanity. Later on, he acquires another obsession – with the imagined heart beating. On the night when he kills the man, he takes the final step only when he hears the man’s heart beating growing louder and fears that the neighbors might hear it (Poe, 2002, p. ). When the police is in the house and he has already persuaded them that everything is alright, he gives himself away completely only because of the heart beating that he hears again (Poe, 2002, p. 39). Thus, two obsessions are obvious – obsession with the man’s eye and obsession with the heart beating.

The narrator states that this is simply “over-acuteness of the senses” (Poe, 2002, p. ) but it is apparently not normal. It is a story of a man going mad. He commits mad deeds with the discretion of a paranoiac. References O’Brien, T. (2002). “The Things They Carried. ” In X. J. Kennedy & D. Gioia (Eds. ), Literature: An introduction to fiction, poetry, and drama, 8th ed. , (pp. 706-718). New York, NY: Longman. Poe, E. A. (2002). “The Tell-Tale Heart. ” In X. J. Kennedy & D. Gioia (Eds. ), Literature: An introduction to fiction, poetry, and drama, 8th ed. , (pp. 36-39). New York, NY: Longman.

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