Documented literary analysis

6 June 2017

The Soldiers War is devastating to the soldiers fighting in it, and they react in ways that seem abstract and foreign. Tim O’Brien 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 Lieutenant Cross’ Platoon; whether it is bad leadership, drug use or the struggles of being Native American within Vietnam.

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O’Brien addresses the issues that were taking place In waterman by using the platoon to mirror what he saw was wrong. The minimal 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 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 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 Ala 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. Caller (O’Brien, Tim). O’Brien connects the awful leader First Lieutenant Called to First Lieutenant Cross. Cross is a not as brutal and harsh a leader as Called. However Cross’ Inactions and wondering mind as well as lack of orders makes him Just as dangerous.

In “The Things They Carried” Cross is not fulfilling his Job, he should be the most prepared for war; both tactfully and mentally (Farrell). Officers go through a much more vigorous training process compared to enlisted soldiers and as an officer you must voluntarily Join. First Lieutenant Cross is so much more dangerous to his men because instead of scanning the hole for deadly booby traps or listening for the scheming enemy he is thinking of Martha, once again. First Lieutenant Cross’ lack of control over his mind also had consequences “Strut made that high happy moaning sound right then Ted Lavender was shot in the head. (O’Erin 101 Cross should have been telling his men to stay frosty or too keep their eyes peeled for enemy snipers; instead his lack of orders gets Ted Lavender got shot and killed. Cross also was too soft on his soldiers and allowed drug use within his platoon. Vietnam was widely viewed as a lost cause while the U. S. Was there and morale was at an all-time 1 OFF Marijuana, while a smaller, but still significant number were using heroin, tranquilizer, and abusing alcohol. O’Brien addresses this issue by referring to Lavender for a majority of the story. Ted Lavender Carried tranquilizer carried six or seven ounces of premium dope” (O’Brien 97). The drug use made Lavender unemotional and sluggish. Lavender was representing the soldiers who could not take the mental stresses of combat and should never have been sent to war, and when they got there, they lost it. Also to blame, was the availability of the drugs and alcohol within Vietnam. A soldier mentioned “A beer was cheaper to get than a soda” (Kumar 870). When the drugs and alcohol were so cheap, the Army should have put preemptive measures to restrict its soldiers from using dope and drinking on Liberty.

Lavender eventually died and it was a result of him not being as sharp as he could be because of the drugs. O’Brien questions how many other soldiers’ deaths resulted from drug use tolerated by the Army. All the drug and alcohol abuse only worsened the military as racism towards Native Americans was also keeping morale owe. Native American’s struggled within the United States but as Vietnam broke out; astounding numbers of Native Americans continued their warrior traditions and volunteered for the war effort instead of being drafted. Thousands of Native Americans volunteered for military service at a much higher percentage than whites or African Americans… Studies show as high as eighty percent of able body male Native Americans volunteered” (Holm). Kiowa represented many of these soldiers but also the traditions of his culture by what he carried with him. The soldiers of the Layton however, represented the rest of the military saying racist things towards him. Another soldier in his platoon, Norman Booker, refers to Kiowa as “Indian” instead of by his name.

Norman knowingly demotes Kiowa to less than a person, no name, Just identifiable by his race. A deep racism is represented and did not help with the situations they were encountering. Kiowa realized the racism and carries it the burden of it, “his grandmother’s distrust for the white man” (O’Brien 225). He carried the hatched which represented his strong Native American ties and related too many of the other soldiers in the war. By war’s end more than 85,000 Native Americans had seen Vietnam War-era service in the U. S. Military'(Holm). Native Americans were the largest of any ethnic group that served in Vietnam.

That is why the other soldiers were so racist towards them, they had always someone to blame because they were everywhere and the time period of Vietnam, made it almost seem alright. Although the strength of Kiowa was very admirable it was often overshadowed by the immaturity of some of the other soldiers. Within the short story “The Things They Carried” written by Tim O’Brien he details the struggles of a platoon. The most important issue he addresses is the lack of leadership and careless actions of the Platoon Commander, First Lieutenant Cross.

O’Brien personally witnessed corrupt leadership in Vietnam and represented that within First Lieutenant Cross by not taking control of his platoon, allowing drug use, and eventually being the cause of death within his squad. O’Brien writes about of the strange ways some of the soldiers from the platoon react and cope with the war. Largely covered is Lavender’s bad habit of being high all the time. Cross should have failed to help struggling soldiers during the war effort and allowed them to run wild.

Lavender on the other hand represents the soldiers of the different branches of the military that were drafted into the war effort and did not have the emotional and mental strength to deal with what they saw, and so they turned to drugs. Another huge issue in Vietnam was Racism within platoons and between soldiers. Although the soldiers were fighting the same war and had the same enemy, white soldiers discriminated against Native American’s who had huge numbers in Vietnam. Kiowa was discriminated against by the soldiers of his platoon although they all had similar issues and lost the same brothers in arms.

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