In the story “In the Field," soldiers of the same platoon as a recently killed soldier named Kiowa, look for the dead soldier in a shit field. While digging through the muck, the remaining soldiers begin to try to place blame for the death. Though Kiowa was buried in a river of shit brought on by a monsoon, and nobody actually murdered the Native American soldier, the men feel the universal belief that it has to be someone’s fault.
Lieutenant Jimmy Cross feels as though it is his fault, because he led the soldiers to the field where Kiowa died. His feeling of guilt is illustrated in the lines, “He would place the blame where it belonged...My own fault, he would say” (161-162). Numerous other soldiers, such as Norman Bowker and the young man who was showing a picture of his girlfriend to Kiowa just before the soldier died, feel as though it is their fault as well. So many of the soldiers believe that the accident is their fault, that the narrator states, “He, too, blamed himself” (162) referring yet another guilt-ridden serviceman.
This idea of placing blame onto someone is a motif in many films, television shows, and pieces of literature. One movie in which this idea is prominent is in The Lion King. In The Lion King, a lion named Scar sets up his brother Mufasa’s death, but makes it look as though it were Mufasa’s son Simba’s fault. Wildebeest trample Mufasa, killing him, and from Simba’s point of view, it looks like an accident. However, Scar has fabricated the plan for the murder. He then belies his true intentions, comforting Simba. However, while consoling the young lion, Scar implies that it was Simba’s fault that Mufasa is dead. Simba feels guilty for something he did not do, and runs away, leaving the kingdom of Pride Rock for his loathsome uncle to rule.
In both The Things They Carried and The Lion King, the characters are overwhelmed by the circumstances they are faced with, and feel as though the guilt has to be placed somewhere. Individuals will go to great lengths to find someone to place blame on before they place it on themselves. Therefore, once someone has blamed himself or herself, he or she rarely decides that he or she is not guilty. In Simba’s case, the blame is placed on him by another being. However, he does not dismiss the guilt, but accepts the blame, causing him to enter a morose state. Both of these stories show how the pattern of placing blame is a powerful one, and that rarely can an event happen without it being thought of as someone’s fault.