Pathos In How To Tell A True War Story By Tim O Brien

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Telling a story. It seems simple, does it not? It has a beginning, middle, and end. There is a set plot, probably some morals, and a few characters. The ending may not give you many answers, but there will be an ending. But Tim O’brien flips those ideas upside down using the chapter “How To Tell A True War Story” in The Things They Carried. The reader learns of a young man whose best friend dies in war, and how he writes a letter to the sister about his life, only to never get one in return. Throughout this chapter, the reader learns how truly contradictory the idea of a “true war story” really is. With a reflective and didactic tone, Tim O’brien effectively teaches those who have not fought in a war how to tell a true war story-- that “a …show more content…

There are multiple examples of his use of pathos, and one of the most prominent is at the very beginning of the chapter. O’brien discloses to the reader how Rat had his heart broken. Rat wrote a heartfelt and emotional letter to his now-dead best friend’s sister about their relationship and life-- only to “wait two months [and have] the dumb cooze never write back” (o’brien 65). One of the main reason he divulges this information to us is to pull at our heart strings and get us to feel sad for Rat. If someone were to include their darkest emotions and feelings, and never get a response back, that person would most likely be distressed and sorrowful. O’brien’s use of Pathos is so critical to his ability to get his message across because if an audience is experiencing feels of remorse, they are more likely to listen. So by O’brien starting the chapter with a an emotional story, he is encouraging the reader to listen more carefully to his overall message. O’brien’s use of ethos throughout the chapter also aids him in showing the reader how difficult it is to tell a true war story. In the middle of the chapter, after O’brien tells us that true war stories have no moral, we learn about the time Rat had an outburst. Rat “stepped back and shot [the baby buffalo] through the right front knee” (o’brien 75). O’brien does not give any explanation as to why he does this, but he tells us that this “wasn’t to kill: just to heart” (o’brien 75). His point in sharing this scene with the reader is to show truly what war does to a person. A normal person in their right mind would not just walk up and shoot a defenseless baby animal. When the reader learns about this event, their ethics are immediately called into question. Is this right? Is it a coping method? No explanation is given, which plays with O'brien's whole idea of whether or

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