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Families and homes provide the first lessons to people on the basics, attitudes, morals, and expectations of a society. Homes act as the first agent of socialization, where parents, siblings and the extended families teach children about the basics of life. Children get lessons on how to use objects like computers, eating utensils, and books. They also learn how to interact and relate with other members of the society. The attitude a child develops about the family is likely to be the same disposition the child expounds about the larger society. In cases where the family environment is safe and secure, a person tends to develop the same attitudes about the entire society. However, if a child grows up in an unsafe and violent home, he is likely to develop hostility and violence towards all the other members of the society.
Members of a family learn to share things among each other regardless of how petty these things are. This creates a bond between the members of such families. People always hold on to things, which their families taught them to perceive valuable. In the story The Things They Carried by Tim O'brien, the American soldiers going to war in Vietnam carry many things from their homes to remind themselves of these little values on the way back home. Jimmy Cross, the first lieutenant, carries letters from Martha, a college girl he loves with all his heart, and hopes that she will love him back someday. The things the soldiers carry also reveal their personalities. Henry Dobbins is a truly hulking man who loves eating a lot, so he carried extra food. Ted Lavender was a fearful person, so he carried tranquilizers, and he took them until the day he died. Dave Jensen worried so much about diseases. For that very reason, he carried toothbrushes and soaps. Kiowa, who was deeply religious, carries a Bible while Norman Bowker carries his diary.
In most cases, family members care and worry about each other, and when things are not well, they sob and mourn together. The soldiers turn into close friends, therefore, when one of them dies, they feel terribly sad and mourn the death of their comrades though they do not want to show it. When Lavender dies, Kiowa, who saw the pangs of his death, just falls, never to wake up again. Kiowa attempts to narrate the story to Bowker, but he gets extremely upset about hearing it repeatedly. Suddenly, he sits up and demands that Kiowa narrates again since he prefers the chatter to the silence. Jimmy Cross tries not to cry and starts thinking of Martha and her different life. He feels guilty for letting Martha distract him from his role of protecting the soldiers.
In most homes and societies, men are strong and brave, and it is their responsibility to protect the families and society. In The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, the soldiers, who are men, get under attack of their enemies and become terrified. Under these circumstances, they scream, cry and make promises to God, but afterwards they feel ashamed since they should not look cowardly in the presence of the other soldiers and the surrounding communities. They narrate stories and tell jokes to distant themselves from fear and grief facing them. When one of them dies, they prefer creating facetious euphemisms for such terrible event rather than calling it death. However, this does not mean that they do not care about the deceased; it only shows that they understand that caring a lot will not change anything. They do not want other people to perceive them as weak or soft despite the fact that all they dream about is lying down and never getting up, or shooting their own legs so that they can get out of the war. They dream about the abolishment of their obligation to carry a heavy luggage. This clearly indicates what happens in most homes where men have to endure pain and suffering without showing it since the society expects them to be strong and fearless.
Most of the times, families make fun of difficult situations, and it might be helpful to relieve them from the real pain. In The Things They Carried, Vietnamese girl, who lost all her family and native village because of the battles with the American soldiers, dances across the wreckage of the village without any music. The soldiers assume that she is conducting a strange ritual while others think that she is just dancing. Later in the evening, Azar starts mocking at the girl’s dance by spinning and jumping, putting his hands on his ears and making erotic moves with his hips. In deed and not in name, the girl’s dance without music is an indication of the ability of people to find pleasure even in the moments of abject horror. The soldiers do not want to explore the human side of the Vietnamese people since they know they are responsible for causing their misery and pain. The plights of the Vietnamese people remain irrelevant about their missions. Therefore, keeping the girl at a distance ensures that she remains a phenomenon rather than a real human, immensely affected by the mission. Azar and the other soldiers mock at girl’s dance and wonder how she tries to find joy despite all the horrors and sorrows that surround her native land. Nevertheless, the mockery enables them to continue with their mission without a guilty conscience.