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Sisters Who Never Write Back and People Who Never Listen - the Roles of Women in the Things They Carried

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“Sisters Who Never Write Back and People Who Never Listen” The Roles of women in The Things They Carried

In some books women are not seen as important characters. Sometimes male characters are focused on more than female characters, even if the female characters have crucial roles that impact the other characters or the story. These female roles can either have an ethical or unethical impact on other characters or the story. This is seen through the female characters in Tim O’Brien’s novel “The Things They Carried”. Each female character has a role that contributes to the story. In Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” females enable or disable male soldiers to maintain their humanity. In the novel females are used to illustrate how men lose touch with humanity, to exhibit the emotional pain of war for men, and to help men discover themselves. Throughout the novel, the female roles showcase how different characters develop by interacting with these women.

One example of a female’s role in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” is that they illustrate to the readers how men lose touch with humanity during war. This can be seen by how Lieutenant Jimmy Cross seems to become possessive of Martha when he sees someone’s shadow in a picture of her. The narrator illustrates this by saying, “At night, sometimes, Lieutenant Cross wondered, who had taken the picture, because he knew she had a boyfriend, because he loved her so much, and because he could see the shadow of the picture-taker spreading out against the brick wall” (4). Jimmy’s reaction to the shadow shows how he loses touch with humanity by, how seeing a shadow makes him become jealous and possessive over Martha. Martha’s role in the novel illustrates how Jimmy loses touch with humanity while in war.

Another example of a female’s role in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” is that they exhibit the emotional pain of war for men. This is displayed by how Curt Lemon’s sister never writes back to Rat Kiley, who in return shoots and kills a baby water buffalo. The narrator illustrates Rat’s pain by saying,“Rat Kiley was crying. He tried to say something, but then cradled his rifle and went off by himself” (76). Rat Kiley’s reaction after killing the water buffalo shows that war makes people bottle up their emotions until they break and all of their emotions come spewing out. Curt Lemon’s sister’s role in the novel of not writing back, even though all she had to do was write a short response, showcases how war made Rat Kiley feel deep emotional pain.

A final example of a female’s role in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” is that they help men

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