After Ted Lavender is killed, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross burns the letters he carries from a girl named Martha back home. Jimmy Cross feels that the letters have made him less aware of what has been going around him in Vietnam and that his negligence was to blame in causing Ted Lavender to die. In addition, Ted Lavender's death makes Jimmy Cross lose faith in everything he thought was good. He wants to believe that Martha loves him and that he loves her, and he also wants to believe that she is a virgin and represents innocence. However, after Lavender's death, Jimmy Cross decides that Martha does not love him and that he only loves her in a hateful way. He also doubts her virginity. As his faith in what is good has been destroyed, he burns her letters in an act of expressing his doubt and cynicism about the world.