The Things They Carried Short Essay - Answer Key

Tim O'Brien
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1. How would you describe Martha's "separate-but-together quality" her and Lieutenant Cross share? What does she send to represent this quality?

Martha sends Lieutenant Cross a small, smooth white pebble she found on the Jersey shore. She noticed it was right where the ocean met land and said it represented her "truest feelings." Martha probably feels great emotional attachment to Jimmy, because they dated before he left. By the war, they are separate, but through the letters they are together.

2. How were Lieutenant Cross's tears misinterpreted after the death of Ted Lavender?

Lieutenant Cross cries in his foxhole after Ted Lavender's body is picked up by the chopper. His men, Norman Bowker and Kiowa, believed he was crying because he felt responsible for Lavender's death. Really, Lieutenant Cross was crying because he loved Martha, and couldn't be with her. Lieutenant Cross felt guilty that he loved Martha more than his men, but he was more upset that Martha lived in a completely different world than he did.

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