Summary Of On The Rainy River 'By Tim O' Brien

2003 Words9 Pages
Journal Assignment: THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brien

“On the Rainy River” Agree or disagree – A person can enter a war as an act of cowardice. Prove your answer. The statement is completely agreeable with because Tim O’Brien is proof of someone entering the war out of cowardice. Many people argue that entering a war, willingly or unwillingly, is in itself an act of honor and bravery, and although this may be true in some circumstances others, such as O’Brien’s beg the question. For example, the book states that the Alpha Company members “spoke bitterly about people who had found release by shooting off their own toes or fingers” (O’Brien 21). Granted O’Brien did end up serving in the war therefore not stooping to the level of cowardice
…show more content…
What do you make of O’Brien’s definition of “truth”? Tom O’Brien defines a true war story as a story that embarrases the storyteller and makes the listener feel slightly disturbed after hearing it. War stories, as O’Brien defines them, do not have a happy ending or a moral. He even goes as far as to say “if a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie” (O’Brien 65). O’Brien continues that when hearing a true war story it can be very difficult to separate the truth from the lies of the story, this is simply because the war is so unpredictable and horrendous it has the ability to make some seemingly impossible events a reality. Everything that goes on in a war a true war story will live the listener speechless, despite all the unbelievable events that may have taken place on the battlefield because “you can’t help but gape at the awful majesty of combat” (O’Brien 77). In conclusion, Tim O’Brien states that a true war story will not leave anything out no matter how grotesque the truth may be, also a true war story makes it nearly impossible to distinguish fact from fiction as “war is hell, but that’s not the half of it” (O’Brien 76). The tell-tale sign of a true war story is…show more content…
One thing that O’Brien carries is Linda, the love he had for her while she was alive with him, the love and longing he carries for her after death took her from him, in addition to the stories and dreams he fantasizes about having the love of his life back with him. What is important to O’Brien is that he remembers everything exactly the way he wants to remember and they way it helps him cope and heal, he understands that she has been taken from him “and yet right here, in the spell and memory of imagination, {he} can still see her” (O’Brien 232). Linda shows that love and death always go hand in hand, true love, the kind of love that nothing can stop, the kind that nothing can stand in the way off, will last until death breaks the mortal bond. The motif, if there is one in this tale, is that true war stories do not always deal with the grotesque violence of war and hell, they also deal with love, something that everyone carries with them beneath the surface. The most important thing for O’Brien is closure, the closure of knowing that she is dead despite his wildest dreams and fantasies, this closure allows him to be “young and happy,” (O’Brien 233) and also allows him to connect the love to the things they carried from the beginning of the journey that was this
Get Access