Question 3

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Question 3

Post  John Patrikis on Wed May 04, 2011 4:56 pm

3. Discuss possible reasons for O'Brien's emphasis on Martha

I believe the reason O'Brien put such emphasis on Martha is because it displayed the intangible items that soldiers take with them to war. Throughout the book, Jimmy Cross shows his deep love for Martha, who he met at college in New Jersey. While his love for her rages, she does not seem to love him back. This deeply hurts Cross, and makes Martha the only thing on his mind constantly. O'Brien does this because he wanted to make clear that on top of all the problems the soldiers go through during war, some of the problems they have back at home can be just as bad. It seemed as if Martha was effecting Jimmy more than the war itself, which emphasizes the title, "The Things They Carried".

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Post  jackielaurente on Wed May 04, 2011 5:33 pm

I agree with all your reasons why O' Brien put so much emphasis on Martha. O' Brien's mind was almost never on the war, but instead constantly distracted by Martha. He put emphasis on her to show how much he both loved and hated her. Even though he loved her with all his heart and she didn't love him on ounce of hers, he hated her for the distraction she was. She caused the death of one of his men because his thoughts were always on Martha. O' Brien felt guilty for loving her so much and not caring whatsoever about the war or his men, but after the death of his soldier he changed his mindset and focused on the war and his mens lives. Even after he burned the pictures and letters from Martha, she drifted a little through his mind because she was a memory he had of something he wanted back home.

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Post  John Patrikis on Wed May 04, 2011 6:00 pm

Jimmy Cross was in love with Martha, not O'Brien. This post was about why O'Brien, as an author, emphasized Martha in the book.

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Post  connorbronson on Wed May 04, 2011 6:17 pm


John, you make a good point about how O'Brien's multiple references to Martha ties into the symbolic meaning of the title. To add to your idea, I also see O'Brien's emphasis on Martha as a symbol in it's own. Martha provides a sense of almost unwanted but unrelenting nostalgia to Jimmy Cross. This yearn for her company drives Cross nearly insane and brings him into an inner sanctuary where it's just him and his intangible love, Martha. This symbolizes the intense need for love the soldiers have, living in an environment where there are no women or families and where communication to the aforementioned is limited nearly to the point of non-existence. I see Cross's feeling of being unloved by Martha as a side effect of his want for companionship that is symbolized by the simple existence of their relationship.

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Post  joeg3193 on Wed May 04, 2011 7:05 pm

I agree with John's analysis of O' Brien's emphasis on Martha; however, I feel the purpose of this emphasis went deeper then to merely serve as an example to support the title. Martha not only symbolized hope, whihc all the men severly needed in order to get through the war, but she also served as an example of how the intangible things the characters, and people themselves, carry can produce a tanglible effect. Because Jimmy Cross could not remove Martha from his mind, it was emphasized that it was his fault that Lavender died. In this way, O'Brien used Martha to prove the dramatic effect the things they carried had upon them.

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