Summary Of The War Story By Tim O Brien

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When listening to a war story, gruesome details are expected. They are expected to be sad and terrifying yet ultimately interesting to hear. When listening to a war story, it is expected to be true. Tim O’Brien offers a number of different stories from the Vietnam war in his collection of short stories, “The Things They Carried.” In his short story, “How to Tell a True War Story,” he informs his audience that in telling a story from war, the truth becomes irrelevant. It is no longer about the actual sequence of events but instead what they meant, how they affected those who were involved. War stories are rarely truthful, according to O’Brien, and he supports this by offering his own. He tells a story told by his comrade Mitchell Sanders. He tells a story of a death in his platoon. He tells a story of the dead man’s best friend, Rat Kiley. Yet, he doesn't tell …show more content…

O’Brien makes this claim by introducing and retelling Mitchell Sander’s story. Sander’s story is about a group of men in the war who heard nonexistent noises and called for action. He soon admits, however, that he “‘had to make up a few things’” (O’Brien 7). He tries to find a moral in the story, claiming at first that it was that “nobody listens” and then that it was the quiet, but O’Brien had already claimed that no such thing could exist in a war story (O’Brien 7). O’Brien effectively argues that the truest part of a story of war is the reaction to it. Sander’s story helps to point out that even with a narrator who is ultimately unreliable, the way the listener reacts carries the most importance. O’Brien continues to insist that his story is true, however, he then moves on to claim that it is difficult to separate what really happened from what seemed to have happened. There are no generalizations. In order for a war story to be true, it simply needs to “make the stomach believe” (O’Brien 8). The concept of truth in the story therefore becomes

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