Theme of Guilt in the Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Some people with a strong guilt often have to live with that guilt their whole liveslife. In the novel “The Things They Carried” Tim O’Brien shows before a war, after a war, or even during a war that guilt is something that can be carried forever, which can be seen through characters like Tim O’Brien, Mark Fossie, and Jimmy Cross.
The first example of Guilt is one of the main characters Tim’ O’Brien. Tim O’Brien started to show guilt before he went off to war. Tim hated the war and didn’t approve of it, he even tried to protest against the war and did everything to try to avoid the war because of how scared he was to fight, but when he got drafted, he tried to move to Canada so that he wouldn’t have to fight in the war and that was when his guilt started to show. He felt like he was a disappointment to his friends and family, he was also disappointed in himself. “I was afraid of walking away from my own life, my friends and my family, my whole history, everything that mattered to me. I feared losing the respect of my parents. I feared the law. I feared the ridicule and censure.” This shows Tim O’Brien’s guilt because he felt like a disgrace to his family and his country, which drove him to later on fighting in the war.
The second example of guilt is seen with Mark Fossie. In chapter 9 “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”, a group of soldiers were talking and making jokes, then a character named Eddie Diamond brought up bringing in some girls as a joke. Later that night, a young medic named Mark Fossie kept bringing up the subject about bringing in a girl and was serious about it. Six weeks later Fossie’s girlfriend, Marry Anne, shows up in a helicopter and everyone was shocked and confused. Marry Anne is a young innocent girl who wanted to have kids and marry Fossie.
Weeks later Marry was always around the greenies, a group of elite soldiers known as the green berets. Mary Anne was learning Vietnamese, learning how to shoot a weapon, and even becomes more curious about Vietnam. Days later Fossie says it’s getting harder to recognize who she is and starts to become more guilty of himself. Marry Anne goes missing one day and later comes back with the greenies. When Fossie finds out she went out on an ambush with the greenies, he says he doesn’t approve of it, so he yells at her. A couple days later, Fossie’s guilt then leads him to regrets and thoughts about Marry Anne, how she changed and isn’t the same anymore. Mark Fossie then finds Marry Anne lying in some sketchy house with skeletons, moaning softly, and wearing a necklace with human tongues around her neck. “Mark Fossie stood rigid. ‘Do something,’ he whispered. ‘I can’t just let her go like that.’ Rat listened for a time, then shook his head. ‘Man, you must be deaf. She’s already gone.”
The story of Fossie and Marry Anne stops there but the moment Fossie last saw Marry Anne, he started regretting everything and realized how guilty he is, when he’s standing rigidly staring at Marry Anne speechless. The last example of guilt is Jimmy Cross. Jimmy Cross is the lieutenant of the Alpha Company, and is responsible for a group of soldiers. Jimmy Cross is unsure how to lead his group of men when he is too focused on his girlfriend, Marhta. Because of this, Jimmy Cross is unfocused and leads one of his men to death. “He realized it was only a gesture. Stupid, he thought. Sentimental, too, but mostly just stupid. Lavender was dead. You couldn’t burn the blame. Besides, the letters were in his head.” Jimmy Cross was upset with guilt that Lavender died because it was his responsibility to keep his men safe but instead he was just thinking about Martha and looking at her letters to him which led him to burn all of her letters and pictures to him.
Years later he talks to O’Brien, another character that shows guilt, and says till that day he is still guilty of himself because he led his men to die. Some people with a strong guilt sometimes has to live with that guilt there whole life. In the novel “The Things They Carried” Tim O’Brien shows that guilt before a war, after a war, or even during a war guilt is something that can be carried on with forever, which can be seen through characters like Fossie, Tim O’Brien, and Jimmy Cross. “The Things They Carried” showed many characters with a strong guilt because of this it caused many lives.
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