Jimmy Cross is a soldier and is in love with a girl named, Martha, he is uncertain that she loves him back She sends him letters that end in “love”, He knows that this means nothing as that is only a closing for the letter He keeps all the letter in his backpack so they can always stay with him Tim O’Brien, The Narrator, shows how all the men have to carry something Everyone carries something different depending on their needs He shows how everyone carrying different things help create a better team in the end as they can be carrying something that will affect the team in some way The medic is in charge of having everything needed to recover an injured person The lieutenant is in charge of making plans and making sure that all the soldiers are safe and don’t die As they are on a mission one of the soldiers, Lavender is shot and killed. Cross is so distracted with thinking about Martha that he does nothing to prevent it and does not react to it immediately because he is too busy thinking about if she loves him or if she is a virgin. Afterward Cross realized that he lost a friend and burns the Letters from Martha and all the pictures.
Chapters 2-6 (Love-Friends)
After the war Cross goes to visit Tim O’Brien. They look at the pictures taken during the war and find a picture of Lavender and O’Brien can’t forgive himself for Lavender’s death. Cross mentions that at his College reunion he met up with Martha At the reunion, Cross told Martha that he loved her and tried to hold her hand but she did not respond and just let go of his hand. Before cross leaves, Martha gives him a new picture of herself Cross admits that he stills loves her to O’Brien On Cross’s way out O’Brien tells him that he wants to make a book with all of his experiences. Cross wants to make sure that his character is very brave so is Mary reads it she will fall in love. O’Brien talks about the more peaceful part of the war Azar sees a kid with a plastic leg and he gives the boy a chocolate bar. Dobbins and Bowker dig a little hole and play checkers every day. He says how his daughter does not want him to write about the war anymore, but he feels obligated to write about his experiences He says that he cannot escape the bad memories and how they are always with him O’Brien also talks about “poppa-san” who his company hired to help them navigate through the land safely He knew the land like the back of his hand and he knew where every mine was and how to avoid him so everyone had to follow him or they died Poppa-san had a saying, “Step out of line, hit a mine; follow the dink, you’re in the pink”.
After O’Brien Graduates from college he gets his draft notice to fight in the Vietnam war He does not want to fight in this war because he doesn’t think that it is right The people around him wanted him to go and fight He does not give answer whether he will fight or not and gets another job in meatpacking industry He does not like this new job and thinks about fleeing to Canada He wants to flee but does not want to let down family He leaves work one day and drives along the rainy river to the tip top lodge. He meets an elderly man by the name of, Elroy Berdahl. They stay at the lodge for six days. During their stay they hiked and played board games together Elroy gives O’Brien $200 before he leaves. On the last day Elroy takes O’Brien out fishing As they are in the boat they see the Canadian shoreline very closely. When O’Brien sees this he starts crying and mentally tells himself that he will go to war because he would embarrass himself and fail his family if he doesn’t. When he gets home that morning he does not take the money with him and he goes off to war Jenson accused Strunk of taking the jackknife and they have a fistfight with the result of strunk having his nose broken Jenson is then scared because he thinks that Strunk will get him back Jenson then breaks his nose to make it even and then Strunk appreciates what he did so he admits that he indeed did steal the jackknife. Soon they both gain a lot of trust and respect each other. They trust each other so much that if one is to be so seriously injured the other will put them out of their misery.
One day Strunk’s leg gets blown off and as Jenson goes to him Strunk begs to not be killed and is taken away for medical attention Later news gets out that he did not back and passed away Jenson felt relief as they had such a relationship that Jenson would hate to see him suffer and rather him be dead.
Chapters 7 (How to Tell a True War Story)
O’Brien starts by saying that it is true and that one of Bob Kileys friends has died Bob Kiley (aka Rat) writes a letter to his friends sister Rat says what a great person he was and how lucky she was to have him. Tells stories that proved what a great guy he was and says that he would volunteer for things that were never thought of volunteering for. Says that he was a little crazy but in a good way and would always test himself O’Brien says that Rat was in tears writing the letter After 2 months pass the sister does not write back to Kiley and he gets frustrated O’Brien finds out that the name of the dead man was Curt Lemon He also finds the reason behind Lemons death Lemon and Rat were having a catch with a smoke grenade when Lemon stepped in an armed and set mortar round O’Brien says that true war stories are hardly believed as some of the worst parts are just not believable even when they are 100% true. When Lemon died Riley was so frustrated and he went up to the top of a hill and continuously shot a water buffalo in anger. When O’Brien and Jensen were told to get Lemon’s body O’Brien remembers Jenson singing “Lemon Tree”.
Chapters 8-10 (The Dentist-Stockings)
O’Brien says that he did not know Lemon that well so it was hard for him to mourn for him. O’Brien decides to tell a story about Lemon that he remembers. One day a dentist is flown out to make sure everyone’s teeth were healthy. As the dentist begins to check their teeth Lemon starts to become nervous and admits that he is scared because when he was younger he had a bad experience with the dentist. When it is his turn to see the dentist when he goes into the tent he faints. Lemon then goes back at night and demands the dentist that he removes a tooth even though the dentist says it is a good tooth But the next morning Lemon was very happy. O’Brien starts by saying that Rat sometimes exaggerates his stories Rat talks about his first mission Eddie Diamond was so confident that the area that they were in was not well guarded that they could take a girl. The medic, Mark Fossie likes the idea and starts writing a letter to his girlfriend (Mary Anne) for her to come and fight. She learns her way around very fast and starts to learn things that will help them Heal injured Learn Vietnamese. She loves Vietnam. She wants to blend in and not look like a girl so she cuts her hair. She really starts to like it and argues with Mark that she wants to stay Eventually she leaves but does return She could not continue in the war but still worked to help the people around her in night patrols. Superstition was a huge aspect of the war Dobbing would wear his girlfriend’s pantyhose every day and it “helped” him survive a gunfight and even after she dumps him he still has it on him for good luck.
Chapters 11-15 (Church-Speaking of Courage)
One day they come across a church They stay there for a week The monks from the church take care of the men everyday by feeding them and giving them water They also clean Dobbins’ machine gun Dobbins says to one of the monks that he would like to become part of the church so he can be social with new people even though he is not very religious Kiowa shares that he carries his bible everywhere he goes but would not want to become a teacher as he would not like that O’Brien kills someone with a grenade Azar makes jokes about the dead man like that he is like oatmeal just piled on the floor. O’Brien feels very bad because he thinks that the man he killed was very smart and into math Azar then tries to make O’Brien feel better by saying that he was a soldier and if it weren’t O’Brien it would be someone else. O’Brien does not respond Bowker goes back to his home in Iowa and for 4th of July he remembers about the war and his friend that died. He also remembers the good things like all of the medals he won and how he is proud of every one of them. He also realizes that he is lonely and has nowhere to go He sorrows over Kiowa’s death as he could not save Kiowa from drowning He says that if his father were with him he would comfort him by showing him al of the medals he was awarded.