Of all the literary lenses, one would not think that feminism would be a prevalent topic in a war novel. In Tim O’Brien’s iconic book, The Things They Carried, the idea that women were just as important as men acts an important theme, however from a different perspective. Movies and epic war stories tell of the heroic actions of the World’s finest: bulky men with an appetite for battle. Yet, there always lied a backbone. Comfort, inspiration, ease, all things that women provided to soldiers during any war. Yet, sometimes things did not go as planned and rash actions were made. O’Brien’s masterful use of lenses creates an interesting novel, one that will stand the test of time, however, the aspects of the feminist lens provides much
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During the first chapter of the novel, the reader learns of Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and his company, each carrying their own burden (hence the name of the book). Some of these items were for comfort while others were for survival. Some men, such as Henry Dobbins, a machine gunner, carried pictures or other items depicting the women in their lives. Of all the examples, Jimmy Cross has the most notable. Cross had a love interest back at home named Martha. Almost every night after he “tucked” his men into their foxholes, he would pull out pictures of Martha. This could be described as Lt. Cross’s inspiration, his will to go on. In other words, women were providing him hope.
Along with pictures for inspiration, other carried items to bring good luck. One such soldier was Henry Dobbins, who carried the pantyhose of his girlfriend back home. Some soldiers declared them magic after he tripped a land mine and survived a firefight. Some had pictures, others had good luck charms, many had both.
Jimmy also had a good luck charm. Along with the letters, Martha had sent over a pebble from the Jersey Shore. Every night, Cross would place the pebble in his mouth and taste the salt, wondering if Martha and he could ever have anything. Martha only fueled this love by sending him letters, of which Cross obsessed over, and perhaps mocked Cross altogether. Of course, Martha never knew of Jimmy’s love interests. She never knew what she meant to him. The