What is Real, Feel What is Right Casualties, drugs, terror, violence, volatility, and mental instability are all well too common for any war. For the Vietnam War, it exceeded all of these. In The Things They Carried, all of the soldiers were faced with these burdening issues on a day-to- day basis, fearing for their lives, their perceived loved ones, and their own emotional sanity. Because this war put on a great deal of stress on the soldiers, there was an eagerness to escape the war and their life that they were fighting for.
It got to the mint where the war that they were fighting for turned into their mental wellbeing that they were fighting for. For the soldiers, there had to be some way out of this terror, or at least anything to take their mind off of the war by sugar coating it with mind tricks and sexual desire rather then land mines and bullets. This led to the goal of making these conditions bearable. Ultimately, many of the soldiers used escapism by meaner of sexual longing, animating the dead, and drugs to elude the harsh reality of war.
In other words, they were not living the life that they were actually living. Sexual longing in the war was a big point for many to keep in mind to escape the harsh reality of constant fear for ones own life. This was especially true for Mark Fosse, whom Rat Killed talked about who shipped in his girlfriend in the story Sweetheart of the Song Trap Bong. During the late night in the midst of the perpetuating wild, Eddie diamond came up with the notion of bringing in a few “mama-sans” from Saigon (hookers) to help mitigate their sexual frustration.
One of the soldiers embraced this idea and said “Hey, yeah, we pay our bucking’ dues, don’t we? ” (O’Brien 88). All of the soldiers felt they deserved an escape from their everyday work, and they sure needed their sexual frustration mitigated, but they knew that the reality of fulfilling this sexual desire was a bit of an outcry from reality. Eventually, this far-fetched benign idea became a reality; only there were no hookers involved. It involved Mark Fossils girlfriend who was shipped to their base via smart planning and arrangements.
It was very apparent that Fosse needed an escape from the war by shipping in his girlfriend. Everyone deals with war, or even tragic events fervently, and Mark Fosse achieved his comfort through sexual longing. For him, it was the surest way for him to stay sane, and the familiarity of his girlfriend gave a sense of comfort. Although it was very ambitious of Fosse to do this, it later led too twist of events and personalities. Fosse was not the only one guilty in seeking escapism through sexual longing.
Jimmy Cross also found escapism by powerfully envisioning a fake relationship using the photo of Martha to bar the harsh reality of war. Martha became not only a sex symbol to him, but she also evolved into an infatuated love symbol to him. Constantly, he would carry her pictures pondering auto winter seen Is a vulgar or not, Ana would constantly envision near legs Ana now beautiful they were to him. By envisioning her legs and by constantly wondering whether she is a virgin or not, that clearly shows some major sexual interest and longing.
Additionally, when Jimmy Cross was seeking safety in the tunnel, it became a way for him to seek safety through his love and sexual longing by looking at her picture and by continuing to be mesmerism’s by her. For Jimmy, love translated to sexual longing, by envisioning a scene at the Jersey Shore. He was buried with Martha under the white sand at the Jersey shore. They were pressed together, and the pebble in his mouth was her tongue” (O’Brien 11). It becomes a little extreme when you envision a pebble to be a tongue.
By relating a pebble and a tongue as the same object, it further shows Jimmy Cross’s sexual frustration and desire. This was all in attempt to connect a love life to the life he was living right now. Even though both of these sexual longing scenarios of Fosse and Jimmy Cross became sour in the end, it shows you how far one will go to escape a setting they aren’t comfortable with. Death, the biggest and most inevitable aspect of war is the most mentally disturbing thing that can go through any ones mind, especially a soldier who witnesses it almost every day.
To escape the most horrific aspect of war, many of the soldiers talked to the dead, pretending the dead to be alive and holding false conversations with them. It was all too common for a comrade to die, and the only way to numb the pain of reality was to animate and give the dead live personality and respect. In the chapter “Lives of the Dead”, O’Brien experiences what the soldiers say and do to the dead bodies. During one of the meal times, right after an air raid where an old man lay dead, the soldiers greeted, pretended to feed, and sit up the dead body.
When Dave Jensen touched O’Brien shoulder, he reinforced escapism by directing O’Brien to the dead by saying, ” Be polite now. Go introduce yourself. Nothing to be afraid about, Just a nice old man. Show a little respect for your elders,” (O’Brien 214). By talking to the dead, one is showing escapism. This is because one cannot actually believe the harsh reality of the deceased. Death is everyone’s biggest fear, and the only way to escape it is to pretend it never appended. This is exactly what is being done when Dave Jensen told O’Brien to talk to the soldier.
Even though O’Brien felt ill after this, it was Just a way in which the soldiers used escapism to shut reality. Lastly, the soldiers used escapism by animating the dead by respectfully giving tribute to Ted Lavender when he is about to be flown in his own casket by a chopper. Mitchell Sanders used escapism by smiling and saying,” There it is, my man, this chopper goanna take you up high and cool. Goanna relax you. Goanna alter your whole perspective on this sorry, sorry sit” (O’Brien 219). Then, to give tribute to Ted, somebody replied to Mitchell sanders animation of Ted by replying, “Roger that.
I’m ready to fly’ (O’Brien 219). This tragic even of Ted Lavender dying had them concerned for their own lives as well. In attempt to sugar coat death, they communicated with and even gave death dialogue, all in attempt to make the most feared aspect of life non-existent. Drugs, the most mind altering form of escapism is a way for people to seek a different sense of existence. It enables the mind to seek enlightenment and even false senses. In The Things They Carried the use of drugs was the easiest escape teeth of all because it required no thinking, talking or making believe.
It simply required only ten Lancelot AT a needle, ten swallowing AT a poll, or ten rolling AT a joint. Dope was a term used by many in the Vietnam War that referred to heroin, marijuana, and tranquilizer. Dope was not only a form of escapism by many of the soldiers who fought in Vietnam, but it was a constant form of escapism by Ted Lavender. In the chapter The Lives of the Dead, O’Brien gives us a glimpse of how Ted Lavender coped with the war by explaining, “In Vietnam, for instance, Ted Lavender had a habit of popping four or five tranquilizer every morning.
It was his way of coping, Just dealing with these realities, and the drugs helped to ease him through the days,” (O’Brien 218). For Ted, drugs altered his sense of reality. Drugs gave him peace and relaxation. To show how effective these drugs were used to achieve diversion, when asked about the war, Ted, with his blazed out look in his eyes would say, “Mellow— a nice smooth war today,” (O’Brien 218). Furthermore, when Ted Lavender was finally killed, the soldiers smoked his “dope” not only in tribute to IM, but to deal with the harsh reality that one of their comrades had Just married death.
The soldiers did not smoke the dope only to follow what Ted Lavender did; they did it because it was their way of connecting, relating, and relieving what had happened to him. It was their way of altering reality and finding inner peace through escapism. * * Come death, come war, comes the emotions that everyone dreads. Despair, longing, entrapment, and instability seem to be encased in the brain of a soldier. The moral of life is familiarity, love, sex, happiness, and stability and the moral of the oldie’s is seeking all of these.
O’Brien writes his stories with such vivid detail and imagery that allows the reader to effectively interpret what is going through mind of each individual in the story. It allows the reader to see how in The Things they Carried, the soldiers longed for sex, drugs, and keeping the dead alive. However, the biggest and most quintessential problem that these soldiers dealt with was finding ways to be able to bear the scent and putridity of war, being able to escape from hell, and being able to love when the love was Just a fantasy. All of these soldiers dealt tit these problems differently.
Notably, escaping reality should have not been the first choice in some cases. By escaping reality through sexual longing, it led to distraction. By escaping reality through the usage of drugs, it led to a decrease in focus and increase in volatility. However, by escaping reality by animating the dead, it led to inner peace. Finally, by these soldiers escaping reality, it led to the uniqueness in each individual story, and the solutions and problems that came with every day life in a war zone.