Fiction And Reality In Tim O Brien's The Things They Carried

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Hidden somewhere within the blurred lines of fiction and reality, lies a great war story trapped in the mind of a veteran. On a day to day basis, most are not willing to murder someone, but in the Vietnam War, America’s youth population was forced to after being pulled in by the draft. Author Tim O’Brien expertly blends the lines between fiction, reality, and their effects on psychological viewpoints in the series of short stories embedded within his novel, The Things They Carried. He forces the reader to rethink the purpose of storytelling and breaks down not only what it means to be human, but how mortality and experience influence the way we see our world. In general, he attempts to question why we choose to tell the stories in the way we…show more content…
From there, we used Napalm left and right as a method of crowd control. O’Brien alludes to the fire and damage as entertainment in “How to Tell a True War Story” stating “it’s all fire. They make those mountains burn” (71). The lives of the dead are normally not a spectacle, but to Tim that is exactly what it has become. If death really is a manifestation of entertainment to him now, then it is a drastic shift in his “cowardly” personality. Even today, we have veterans from many wars terrified of fireworks for their similarity to gunshots and explosions. Sgt. Matthew Thomason, a veteran of the Afghanistan war states, “[I] got used to falling asleep to the lullaby of gunfire…could tell what kind of weapon was being fired just from the sound” (Military). We see that O’Brien’s mental state was one actually found in the battlefields. Amusements are both questionable, and fluid in their definitions. Horrors to some, become normal to…show more content…
In The Things They Carried, O’Brien’s story-telling method is an attempt to show that the lines between fiction and reality are often not that far. Even though the names or details may not be fully accurate, this does not change the fact that they are a reality for many. Additionally, he challenges the importance that we place on war and links it to a storytelling aspect because he’s pointing out that not every story has a moral to it. With tragic events, we typically want some sort of meaning behind them, some sort of assurance that the incident was not for nothing. However, this is not always true, as a character “Yeah, well…I don’t see no moral”…“There it is man”. (O’Brien 13). The former is a response to acknowledging a soldier’s death, and the latter is another character’s refusal to believe it was for no reason. One may feel lost without meaning and modify their story to have one. It’s typical to want a great story to tell, something that captures attention. It’s also normal to cope with our problems by telling slightly modified version of stories, like Tim O’Brien
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