This is described in the story when the narrator states, “And then afterward, when you go to tell about it, there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed” (3). It’s the idea of trying to find a truth, or some meaning behind this meaningless slaughter and killing that happened during the war. But with each telling it seems that the narrator might be stepping further from the truth and that this story should be questioned on its validity. As Rosemary King explains in her article, “On one hand, O 'Brien is asking how a listener can distinguish whether a story is a factual retelling of events; on the other he outlines "how to tell" a war story” (182). King is describing how O’Brien is saying it’s impossible to tell what is and isn’t factual in a war story, and how he is at the same time explaining how to tell a “true war story.”
“That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future ... Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story” (36). The Things They Carried is a captivating novel that gives an inside look at the life of a soldier in the Vietnam War through the personal stories of the author, Tim O’Brien . Having been in the middle of war, O’Brien has personal experiences to back up his opinion about the war.
In the chapter, How to Tell a True War Story, he emphasizes this a lot. “In many cases a true war story cannot be believed. If you believe it, be skeptical. It’s a question of credibility. Often the crazy stuff is true and the normal stuff isn't, because the normal stuff is necessary to make you believe the truly incredible craziness.”
In Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien expresses himself through fictionalized war stories as catharsis to comfort himself in the only way that he knows how. He tries to show the reader all of the pains of war that not only he felt, but his other young companions that fought alongside him in the brutal war. In the novel, O’Brien is a successful young man who is drafted into the Vietnam War to fight grudgingly for something he claims to be against. He recounts many of his experiences in stories based on true events but that are elaborated and fictionalized for the benefit of the reader’s understanding. This portrayal of the war in his words is a form of therapy for him that keeps him sane; even though the stories he tells are
The absolute truth may not always be known. Another culture’s history may tell a varied version of an account that differs from the ones that exist in the textbooks in American classrooms. To every war, there is the triumphed and the defeated. Each side walks away with a drastically different outlook on what has occurred. By only hearing one side, individuals are there by limited and constricted to a less knowledgeable idea of the truth.
Literary analysis America’s war heroes all have the same stories to tell but different tales. Prescribed with the same coloring page to fill in, and use their methods and colors to bring the image to life. This is the writing style and tactic used by Tim O’Brien in his novel, “The Things They Carried”. Steven Kaplan’s short story criticism, The Undying Certainty of the Narrator in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, provides the audience with an understanding of O’Brien’s techniques used to share “true war” stories of the Vietnam War. Kaplan explains the multitude of stories shared in each of the individual characters, narration and concepts derived from their personal experiences while serving active combat duty during the Vietnam War,
Readers, especially those reading historical fiction, always crave to find believable stories and realistic characters. Tim O’Brien gives them this in “The Things They Carried.” Like war, people and their stories are often complex. This novel is a collection stories that include these complex characters and their in depth stories, both of which are essential when telling stories of the Vietnam War. Using techniques common to postmodern writers, literary techniques, and a collection of emotional truths, O’Brien helps readers understand a wide perspective from the war, which ultimately makes the fictional stories he tells more believable.
“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
The world has been prospering from war for a long time. But, we do not always see the problems it causes. For instance, it tears families apart, it clashes generations, and finally it shows us principal versus reality. So, if war brings more bad things than good it defeats the purpose of even having a war in the first place. The authors of My Brother Sam is Dead also feels that war is pointless and unnecessary.
Although he mentions that you can’t tell a true war story, he still points out the story of the troops who heard unreal sounds in the mountain, and he also points out that Mitchell Sanders states this story. The irony happens because if the story is untellable, Tim O’Brien still told it. The truth conveyed by this irony is that the story is probably exaggerated as it’s passed to O’Brien, and it is not what it actually happened. Contrast and Juxtaposition “The truths are contradictory”(80).
Although the concepts of truth are the same, no person will have the same exact definition of truth. Many people can share a truth, but none of them will always be the same. In O'Brien's The Things They Carried, there's an excerpt called How to Tell a True War Story, an example of O’Brien’s claim can be found when he talks about Mitchell Sanders’ story. It involves a troop that went into the mountains for a listening post operation. He mentions that these men began to hear strange echoes and music, which frightens them.
He claims that the WWI was “Armageddon” or the end of the world because it was the most destructive war ever witnessed by humanity. He also says that because it was a great war, the criminals and heroes cannot be found in such a war. However, these features are not what we saw in the past wars because in the old wars, there are heroes, such as Fredrick, Napoleon, Hannibal who physically lead their soldiers in the front lines of the army, but this cannot be seen in this war because of the decline of individual’s role in the new war that the process is a cooperative affair rather than individual. Moreover, this new feature is the reason of not having “loin-hearted warriors” because if the leader is away from his soldiers, then who will motivate them and lead them physically to do their job. As he mentions that it is not a stock market for the generals to do their job far away from the center, but it is war and they needs to be at the center of the battlefield and seriously direct their army.
The Stories Told by the Soldiers In the book The Things We Carried by Tim O'Brien, he tells the reader stories about his experience in the Vietnam war. He tells stories about before, during and after the war. O’Brien explains his feelings towards the war by hinting it in many of his stories. He uses juxtaposition, diction, irony, metafiction, and repetition.
In today, most institutions tend to teach war in a very unitary and rationalized fashion, i.e., while studying war, students should alienate their personal emotions and use scientific method to quantify relevant factors and to objective analyze the cause and motives of war. For instance, soldiers as other military cargos can be simplified into numbers. Also, to further simplify warfare, some trivial information shall also be trailered. For example, personal narratives, biography, war related poetry and memoirs could be more or less summarized or even ignored. Only relevant information like data of casualty, time, and involving parties should be preserved.