The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien
The Things They Carried Weakness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Story Title.Paragraph)
[…] maybe then he would write a letter to Kiowa's father. Or maybe not. Maybe he would just take a couple of practice swings and knock the ball down the middle […]. (In the Field.119)
This entire time, Jimmy Cross has been telling us that he completely accepts the blame for Kiowa's death, and that he's going to write Kiowa's father a letter explaining himself and accepting responsibility. At the end of the story, though, you know he's probably not going to actually do it.
When you give yourself an out on something that scary, you know you're going to take the easier option. And that shows an incredible amount of moral weakness on Cross's part. By chickening out from writing to Kiowa's father, he's also ducking the full weight of the responsibility for his death.
Quietly, Sanders looked at me for a second and then walked away. I had to get Azar in on it. He didn't have Mitchell Sanders's intelligence, but he had a keener sense of justice. (The Ghost Soldiers.100-2)
Okay—if O'Brien is at the point where he thinks that Azar has a keen sense of justice, then he's really hit a moral low point. Instead of dealing with his feelings about Jorgenson and moving on, he's resorting to vengeance. Very weak.
[Azar] looked down at me with a mixture of contempt and pity. After a second he shook his head. "Man, I'll tell you something. You're a sorry, sorry case." I was trembling. I kept hugging myself, rocking, but I couldn't make it go away. (The Ghost Soldiers.204-5)
At first, Azar seems like the strong one here, and O'Brien comes across as weak. After all, Azar is pitying O'Brien, and O'Brien is a curled up mess on the ground. But O'Brien's the one with the strength to stare at his own weakness and mortality and deal with it (even if it involves crying). Azar's the one too weak to acknowledge that he could ever be weak.