The war in Vietnam…How much pain does this short word combination incorporates. This war can be listed among the strangest and the most unsuccessful military campaigns ever held by the United States. In his book, “The Things They Carried”, Tim O’Brien addresses numerous sad experiences which one of the American platoons had to suffer in this war. Tim O’Brien as a Vietnam veteran well knows all the pain and sufferings which American soldiers had to face, and he shares his pain in this book. However, he also knows the truth about real courage and heroism shown by American soldiers in this war.
In the following paper, the character of Lieutenant Jimmy Cross will be addressed in terms of his correspondence to the high standards of a proud title “hero”. With the duration of time and seeing such evil things as death, fear, and shame, this young man comes to an understanding of what is really precious and how real heroism is important.
Speaking about the theme of heroism and the way it is addressed, the character of Jimmy Cross appears to be one of the most remarkable characters (though it is not the main character in the novel) through which the author reveals his attitude to this notion. It can be seen that the concept of what is courage, bravery, and heroism change throughout the book as Cross finds himself in a variety of difficult situations, and sees the most terrifying and striking thing for humans which is death. Initially, the concept of heroism appears as some childish outlook with its idealism in particular areas and naivete in the other ones.
Eventually, the reader finds Jimmy Cross along with the other comrades of his as a mature man with mature feelings, ideas, and way of thinking; and, thus, a different approach to what heroism actually is. Initially, we meet this young 24-year old man at the beginning of the book. He is obsessed with his love, and as a result, is not very much concerned about the well-being of his subjects. We read in the book:
A dark theater, he remembered, and the movie was Bonnie and Clyde, and
Martha wore a tweed skirt, and during the final scene, when he touched her
knee, she turned and looked at him in a sad, sober way that made him pull his hand back (O’Brien 18).
This quotation shows what is on Cross’ mind initially. As a result, he is not attentive to his obligations which leads to the death of one of his soldiers. This death strikes him a lot and that is where he really begins to think about the themes of heroism and his place in this war. Jimmy Cross realized that the only thing in this world hardly to be avoided and never to be changed is death. This understanding turned his idea on his position at the theatre of military actions and formed a new vision on such important values as courage and heroism for the well-being of his close ones.
In conclusion, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross can be evaluated as a real hero and a great example of courage and strength of the character. With the duration of time and a row of terrifying and striking events he comes to the understanding of what real courage, bravery, and heroism are. Jimmy Cross finds out that there is nothing more precious on this earth than the life of his close ones which is to be safeguarded by all means possible and to be cherished above everything. Facing such disgusting and evil things as death and cowardice, Jimmy Cross comes to revaluating his role in the war and decides to be a hero for his close ones dedicated to protecting them and fighting for each and every life of theirs.
O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried, the United States: Broadway, 1998. Print.