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The characters and personal traits of Mary Ann and Martha as depicted in the story “ The things they carried” are diverse according to their believes and views for instance the story of “Love”, brings better understanding of Martha. In this excerpt, I am going to compare the two characters in relation to their differences similarity to bring a clear distinction between them.

In this book, love functions as an epilogue or a postscript for the chapter of love by Martha and Jimmy Cross. “The Things They Carried” in this O’Brien’s book referred to how thing later turned out for Martha and Cross, twenty years after the war demonstrating the fallout of Vietnam. The chapter of love has three women of which we are to  concentrate and analyze two of them Mary Anne and Martha.

The major role of Marry Anne as revealed by the author is encouraging since she discovers herself throughout her journey to Vietnam to redefine the typical role of the women in the book. The role of women on this context is very influential in the positive way. She is portrayed as the best representing women in this book. Marry Anne is young innocent, typical and fresh girl as we are told that at her seventeen years, Mark Fossie who is her high schools sweetheart makes arrangement to make her come and stay in Vietnam with him. Her character is outgoing and likeable as we are told that on her arrival, she makes she distracts many boys and they also like and appreciate her due to her dances.

"The men genuinely liked her. Out on the volleyball court she wore cut-off blue jeans and a black swimsuit top, which the guys appreciated, and in the evenings she liked to dance to music from Rat's portable tape deck" (Tim 95).

With time, Mary demonstrates maturity to womanhood when she was taught how to disassemble an M-16 by Eddie diamond and also shown how various parts worked. She is seen to be eager to progress with learning the basics on how to use the weapons thereby being courageous and brave to prepare for war as a soldier. She is a quick learner as we are told that immediately she learnt on how to use weapons she did start wearing of tongue necklaces and listening of dark music meaning she has integrated to soldier life thereby losing her innocence. She becomes very fond of military belongings. She seem to adopt the men life and adopting masculine features.

"No cosmetics, no fingernail filling. She stopped wearing jewelry, cut her hair short and wrapped it in a green bandana"(Tim 98).

As per the book, Martha’s role can be considered to as positive since she is seen much more determined to keep up the morale of Jimmy Cross. In contrast to this, the role could also be termed to as negative as she is seen to lead Jimmy Cross on. She is described as romantic. In the text, Lt. Jimmy would spend most of his nights analyzing the letters sent to him from Martha to get the hidden romantic meaning in them. Martha is loving, she dates Jimmy before the war. She is kind to Jimmy but never marries his despite the love.

Martha is Jimmy Cross’ lover. She is left home during the sixties and seventies attending college, playing football and reading Virginia Woolf as she waited for those who went to Vietnamese war particularly her lover Cross.

In the story of “Love,” Tim O’Brien visits Jimmy cross and they have a drink of gin as they swap memories and looked at the snapshots at that related the time  they were both “incredibly soft and young” (Tim 29).

Among the photos was that one of volleyball shot grey-eyed Martha. Cross recalls the response of Martha to his intention of carrying her upstairs and tie her onto the bed to make it possible to spend the night touching her knee of which she reacted by crossing her arms protectively across her chest and said she did not “understand how men could do those things…..the things men do” (Tim 31). Martha rejected Cross as she does not want to be associated with her, which worries Cross since he had adored her, he feels that perhaps the absence in war may have disillusioned her or she changed to a new personality as she came of age without him. He seeks the assistance of Tim and allowed to tell him his story on condition that he would make him such a hero that Martha would came back to him.

“Make me out to be a good guy, huh? Brave and handsome, all that stuff. Best platoon leader ever.” (Tim 31).

 Mary Ann, Fossie’s lover, may also be considered to be similar with Martha in some characters as they both reject the general motive towards women as their source of comfort and happiness. For the case of Cross, he meet rejection of Martha when gets home with a lot of expectation. Whereas Fossie invites his girlfriend to Vietnam so that she could stay with him and give him comfort at the camp but she turns out to be very curious of Vietnamese culture and abandoned him.

On the contrary, Mary is different from Martha because as Martha crosses her arms against understanding “things men do” Mary is curious to understand men. Mary tries to describe her awakening in relation to appetite and carnal excitement that is entirely in the body.

Sometimes I want to eat this place. Vietnam. I want to swallow the whole country--the dirt, the death-- I just want to eat it and have it there inside me…When I’m there out at night, I feel close to my own body. (Tim 121)

In conclusion, it is apparent that even though both Mary and Martha share some common traits of personality in the view of men and society, they are different as such each one of them regards things surrounding them differently, as Mary is curious to understand the society more, Martha is reluctant and confines to herself. Moreover, Martha does not fancy the life of war as she denies her boyfriend.

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