November 13, 2013
War is devastating to the soldiers fighting in it, and they react in ways that seem abstract and foreign. Tim O’Brien’s short story “The Things They Carried” details the struggles of a platoon that represents the entire U.S. Army throughout the war effort in Vietnam. O’Brien writes about of the strange tactics of the people within First Lieutant Cross’ Platoon; whether it is bad leadership, drug use or the struggles of being Native American within Vietnam. O’Brien addresses the issues that were taking place in Vietnam by using the platoon to mirror what he saw was wrong. The initial issue O’Brien saw when he went to Vietnam was awful leadership.
The largest issue O’Brien encountered in Vietnam was awful leadership. In “The Things They Carried” First Lieutenant Cross’ common day dreaming and train of thought were troubling and disturbing. Cross’s routine is described as “… Spend the last hour of light pretending. He would imagine romantic…trips” (O’Brien 104). Cross than “slowly, a bit distracted, he would get up checking the perimeter then at full dark return to his hole and wonder if Martha was a virgin” (104). Cross is not fit to be a Platoon Commander, his mind is elsewhere when he should be scanning the horizon for enemies or listening for approaching dangers. O’Brien as an enlisted soldier, Officers were in charge of them and it is normal to not like a boss. However, he encountered disgust from the local Vietnamese people there and never knew why until he heard of what happened several months before he arrived in Vietnam. “In a few months he … learned of the massacre that had taken place in My Lai on the morning of March 16, 1968. Hundreds of women, children … in addition to virtually all the animals within firing range, were gunned down by the approximately 115 American soldiers of Charlie Company, commanded by First Lieutenant William L. Calley” (O’Brien, Tim). O’Brien connects the awful leader First...
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