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Ch. 1: The Things They Carried 
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I had a little different take on this. It struck me how O'Brien started the book and the list with Martha's letters and as I read more chapters I felt this wasn't done by accident, but rather was very deliberate. I believe the women in the book are very symbolic.

Martha, IMHO, represents innocence and how it was stolen from these men and from America.

Lt. Cross is obsessed with Martha's innocence, aka virginity.
Her letters talk about poetry and poets, filled with romantic notions and ideas, and she never addresses the war except to tell Jimmy Cross to take care of himself.


I think this mirrors the attitude of most Americans stateside. There was a romancing of the war. A certain innocence about what the war was really about.

I felt Lt. Jimmy Cross' burning of the letters and pictures represented the death of his innocence. He felt guilty for Lavender's death. Felt he was responsible. His innocence was destroyed.

Pamela



Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:49 pm
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imnosalinger wrote:

I felt Lt. Jimmy Cross' burning of the letters and pictures represented the death of his innocence. He felt guilty for Lavender's death. Felt he was responsible. His innocence was destroyed.

Pamela


I was thinking along the same lines when I read this chapter. I also think the women in the book are use symbolically.



Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:16 pm
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My take, for what it's worth, is that there is literary irony in Jimmy Cross taking responsibility for Lavender's death. Yes, he "Carries the responsibility for his men" in addition to "humping his love for Martha up and down the hills," and eventually, yes, he cannot carry both of those things and so has to put one down, but that the impetus for him to do so is something so ultimately random (if Lavender died because he walked into the woods to pee, should Cross then order his men not to pee anymore, because that's when they get you?), it makes it really sad, because he essentially jettisons the last shred of humanity he has with the vain hope that it will keep his men safe. Which it will not, of course. People die in war; in Vietnam, as O'Brien writes it, they die with no other causality than that they happened to be in a jungle full of people who wanted to kill them.



Tue Nov 25, 2008 2:24 pm
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shrewdape wrote:
My take, for what it's worth, ...........(if Lavender died because he walked into the woods to pee, should Cross then order his men not to pee anymore, because that's when they get you?)


Worth every bit as much as mine, probably more.
I think that it was not really random for Jimmy to blame his preoccupation of Martha because that is what was occupying his thoughts when the moment came, it is also a way for him to accept the reality of his situation and give up hope of a dream. If he had blamed 'peeing' he would in essence be blaming Lavender himself for his own death and setting down the responsiblity he was carrying for his men.



Tue Nov 25, 2008 2:46 pm
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Well, I don't know where the chapter actually ends - I'm doing it on audio - I'm halfway through the second disk - just at the point where he leaves the old man's place and decides to head home and join the war.



Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:13 am
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Saffron wrote:
imnosalinger wrote:

I felt Lt. Jimmy Cross' burning of the letters and pictures represented the death of his innocence. He felt guilty for Lavender's death. Felt he was responsible. His innocence was destroyed.

Pamela


I was thinking along the same lines when I read this chapter. I also think the women in the book are use symbolically.


I disagree; i think the burning of the photos symbolically represent that Cross is leaving behind his childhood and is becoming a man.



Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:41 pm
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I disagree; i think the burning of the photos symbolically represent that Cross is leaving behind his childhood and is becoming a man.


Becoming a man is about accepting responsibility, accepting reality, a loss of the innocence of childhood. Maybe you're not really disagreeing at all.



Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:05 pm
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