How To Tell A True War Story Analysis

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Tim O’Brien never lies. While we realise at the end of the book that Kiowa, Mitchell Sanders and Rat Kiley are all fictional characters, O’Brien is actually trying to tell us that there is a lot more truth hidden in these imagined characters than we think. This suggests that the experiences he went through were so traumatic, the only way to describe it was through the projection of fictional characters. O’Brien explores the relationship between war experiences and storytelling by blurring the lines between truth and fiction. While storytelling can change and shape a reader’s opinions and perspective, it might also be the closest in helping O’Brien cope with the complexity of war experiences, where the concepts like moral and immorality are being distorted. “How to Tell a True War Story” and “Ambush” are stories that both explore on topics: truth, the real definition of a true war story, and the role of truth.

O 'Brien starts off “How to Tell a True War Story” with “This is true.” Starting this story with such a bold sentence not only makes it seem more true, but to some extent, it acts as a comfort statement to the narrator’s own doubts, as if there were unspeakable uncertainties and lies of the narrator. The title of this story also comes into play, with a meta-fictional name “How to Tell a True War Story”, as if it were a guide, a manual, having a true war story tell the readers how to tell a true war story. However ironically, towards the middle of the story, us as
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