The men idealize these women and use their presence-?in letters, p autographs, and even their imagination-?as a kind of solace and mental note that a world doe s exist outside the atrocities of Vietnam. Despite this, we learn that the women in the The Things They Carried may or may not fulfill the fantasy role that the men carve out for them. Women who o initially served as a reminder of love , are strategically used by Tim Cobber in order to show how harsh the realities of Vietnam were for some of the men. One significant example of how women affected one of the soldiers was Jim y Crosses infatuation with Martha.
Jimmy C Ross, the lieutenant of alpha company, carried pictures of Martha and the memories of their only date. He also carried the hope that SSH e might one day return his love so that he has something to look forward to, after the war he fails to recognize, however, how love and war are connected, relying instead on his love for Mar that as an escape from war. He cannot be both in love and in war; just as his relationship with Martha is a fiction, so is his ability to perform his soldierly duties. O’Brien notes, ” Lieutenant Crop as gazed at the tunnel. But he was not there. E was buried with Martha under the white San d at the Jersey Shore” (11). By loving, therefore, he actively resists his duty as a leader-? he withdraws from leadership and Vietnam. We learn in “Love” that even after Jimmy Cross returns home from the war, he cannot ever win Marsh’s heart. Another significant woman figure is Mary Anne Bell. In “Sweetheart of the Son g Tray Bong” we are introduced to Mary Anne by Rat Killed who tells a story to the sol driers in Alpha Company. Rat states that a medic named Mark Fossil was taken by the idea o f bringing his girlfriend abroad.
He does so and brings Mary Anne to Vietnam. He believes that her presence might save him from the horrors before him. Rat Killed notes, “Mary Anne made you think about those girls back home, how clean and innocent they all are, how they’ll never understand any of this, not in a billion years”(88) When she arrives encounter, she is clearly female, a sexual other a “novelty,” who was “good for morale. ” Killed then explains her transformation Mary Anne who was young and naive insisted on learning about Vietnamese culture and the Vietnam War up close.
She assists the medical unit when they receive casualties. Eventually she stops wearing makeup, and her attention is consumed by learning how to use an MOM assai It rifle. Eventually, Mary Anne Bell falls captive to the jungle’s mystery and ends up leaving Mark Poesies and breaking his heart. It is her physical environment (the country itself) which erodes her femininity and equalizes her gender. Her progression from a sweet girlfriend to something Eng more inhuman than the Green Berets is an analogy for the loss of innocence through which a II soldiers of Vietnam go through.
This is a prime example in which a woman who initially s revered as a reminder of love and innocence for the soldiers completely transforms and f ailed to fulfill the initiates that men desired, which further proves how the harsh realities of vi Ethan can affect anyone. The third significant woman is Henry Dobbins unnamed girlfriend. In the story “stockings”, O’Brien recalls a fellow soldier, Henry Dobbins, and his habit of war aping his girlfriend’s pantyhose around his neck as a sort of “talisman,” or lucky charm. O’Brien remembers Dobbins as a simple man with good intentions.
When caught in a fight in the middle of an open field, Dobbins wrapped the pantyhose around his face and made t through the fight unscathed. The pantyhose, he believed, kept him safe, and he continued his e centric practice even after his girlfriend broke up with him because he said the magic did not go away. By wrapping the stockings around his neck and pulling them over his nose, Dobb ins displays a yearning for the feminine, gentler side of himself. Second, and most obviously , the stockings are a symbol of love and home.
They are out of place in Vietnam where the soldier RSI have neither women nor refinement. Stockings recall memories of more pleasant times who en Dobbins was with his girlfriend, away from the war and the jungle. So powerful are the Stock kings that they become a talisman, giving Dobbins real power to stay healthy and injurer. However, we learn that Dobbins girlfriend breaks up with him and Dobbins retains the stock kings still. The power of the stockings, then, does not come from love or the memory of his g relined, but from Dobbins himself.
They will continue to protect him so long as he believes in the Women in The Things They Carried are used to serve as reminders for the m en that there is hope and that a world exists outside Of the war. However, as we see with M earth and Mary Anne, that this is not always true. Martha who was subject to the obsession of Jimmy Cross, rejected his advances in “love”. Mary Anne, who arrived in Vietnam as a SMB 1 of hope for Mark Fossil, conformed to the illusionists of the jungle.