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Tansformation of Jimmy Cross in "The Things They Carrie

Tansformation of Jimmy Cross in "The Things They Carried"

Tim O'Brien's story, "The Things They Carried," is open ending. Thus, the ending becomes a new beginning. Jimmy Cross undergoes a transformation, in which he matures from infantry to a lieutenant.


Tim O'Brien provides his audience with a very descriptive image of both the physical and mental "things" the characters in the story carried. He gives the reader insight as to how the characters are physically and mentally dealing with the turmoil of the war. However, in the end of the story - Jimmy Cross - a round character, reacts to the death of Ted Lavender, and decides to grow up.


To begin with, Jimmy Cross blames himself for the death of Ted Lavender. He believes that Ted died because of his own irresponsibility. He feels this way, for at the time of Ted's death, Jimmy was being pulled into a fantasy about himself and Martha buried "...under the white sand at the Jersey shore." Jimmy tried to fight off the images, but he was unable to, for "he was just a kid at war, in love." Lieutenant Cross did not tell Ted Lavender to go off by himself, but since Jimmy was responsible for the well being of all the men, he held himself responsible. Critic Tina Chen notes that the "death of Ted Lavender jolts [Cross] into awareness, forcing the realization that the romantic fantasies [of Martha and home] are unable to meet the exigencies of combat experience in Vietnam." Thus, Jimmy comes to the conclusion that if he had not been pre- occupied with thoughts of being with Martha, Ted Lavender wouldn't have been shot.


Jimmy's transformation begins when he decides to burn the pictures and letters of his girlfriend, Martha. Cross' subsequent burning of Martha's letters suggests that he's determined to put such romantic ideas behind him. He repeatedly convinces himself that there will be "no more fantasies..."about Martha. Chen seems to assert that "the burning of the letters is a significant turning point in Cross' development..." Cross realizes that Martha's feelings for him were not those of love, for she is an English major, a girl who lives in the world of words. Chen also suggests that " mesmerized by fantasies of Martha while partially cognizant of his self-willed delusions about her requiting his love, Lieutenant Cross...

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