She wrote to end their relationship. His girlfriend is only mentioned when she breaks up with him, and she is not actually important for the pantyhose to be lucky. Dobbins went quiet for a while, staring down at her letter, then after a time he took out the stockings and tied them around his neck as a comforter. His former girlfriend has married someone else, his closest friends are dead. The girl, who is not named in the story, is of little importance. But he wanted to provoke the same feelings in the reader that he felt on the trail.
In this sense The Things They Carried is a straightforward tragedy, with the main flaw of an otherwise likeable main character causing his downfall. By contrast Bowker and Kiowa have the opportunity to talk. Like many of us in Vietnam, Dobbins felt the pull of superstition, and he believed firmly and absolutely in the protective power of the stockings. He was dismayed that people in his home town seemed to have so little understanding of the war and its world. The talking though makes Kiowa feel better. The other men, who used to make fun of him about it, now believe in the power of those pantyhose. Women exist only on the margins of the narrative.
There was a terrible stink and the bones of dead Vietnamese soldiers were lying around the tent. He thinks they are a good luck charm. I couldn't endure the mockery, or the disgrace, or the patriotic ridicule. To Henry, the 'magic' does not vanish with the girl. Man, that's one I'd love to see.
Wrapping the stockings around his neck and pulling them over his nose, Dobbins displays a yearning for the feminine, gentler side of himself. The old monk seemed proud. The main image in this vignette is the pair of stockings that Dobbins hangs around his neck. They don't seem upset when the soldiers dig foxholes close by—though the younger one made a washing motion with his hands that no one could decipher. She said she felt like herself for the first time in her life. She was blonde and young, wearing a pink sweater and culottes, and her name was Mary Anne.
They are scarcely remembered girlfriends, or they are beloved girlfriends who are only present in photographs. They giggled when we stripped down to bathe; they smiled happily while we soaped up and splashed one another. I'm forty-three years old, and a writer now, and even still, right here, I keep dreaming Linda alive. I would go to the war—I would kill and maybe die—because I was embarrassed not to. The book is plainly anti-war. O'Brien notes that mostly everyone felt mildly superstitious in Vietnam, clinging to arbitrary things to protect them against something as arbitrary as death. He smiled at the older monk, who was now cleaning the machine gun's trigger assembly.
He is made uneasy by camping at the pagoda, arguing that it is bad luck to camp at a religious site. It is a beautiful, peaceful place. The men discuss their relationships with churches, and for the most part, appreciate the interaction with other people and the peace of the building. The old monk seemed proud of the chair, and proud that such a man as Lieutenant Cross should be sitting in it. The chapter illustrates the need to discuss and communalize trauma, especially when the experience has been shared.
She stops showering, covers her feminine long hair, and stops wearing makeup. With the pantyhose around his neck, Dobbins survives tripping over a land mine, and a week later he survives a firefight. They were like body armor, he thought. The two monks were quiet as they cleaned and oiled the machine gun. It illustrates how Dobbins sexualizes his girlfriend as the stockings reminds him only of her body and as he objectifies her as an object for sex 111. He never actually went through on the plan.
Maybe the answer to the hard questions is to be nice to each other. You have to explain some hard stuff, like why people die, or why God invented pneumonia and all that. In contrast to Curt Lemon, O'Brien's portrait of Henry Dobbins is a positive account of faith and hope. Treat them decent, you know? Facts, then, were arbitrary too because they were dependent on chance. If a story seems moral, do not believe it.
He is distraught and wanders around for a while simply staring at the letter. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil. That is why O'Brien gives us so many stories where characters try to understand — the stockings give Dobbins an understanding, or a state of mind, that makes him more powerful. Curt Lemon A young man that frequently attempts to assume the role as a tough soldier. When it provides none, war makes these soldiers create their own comfort. Each morning the two monks brought us buckets of water.