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The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried


by Tim O'Brien

Lee Strunk and Dave Jensen

Character Analysis

This is another pair of slightly less important soldiers. In terms of the story, they really only matter when they're with each other, and otherwise, the two are your average pair of cocky young men stuck in a war. They start out enemies, when Strunk steals Jensen's jackknife and Jensen breaks his nose, and they end up friends—kind of.

Their pact to off each other if either of them receives a wheelchair-worthy wound isn't exactly the warm and cuddly kind of friendship we tend to prefer. But their enmity isn't normal enmity, either—who breaks his own nose out of guilt for breaking another guy's nose for stealing his jackknife? In a way, by apologizing to Strunk, Jensen is Strunk's friend by the end of "Enemies." And by failing to kill Strunk as he'd promised, Jensen is Strunk's enemy by the end of "Friends."