The Things They Carried Metafiction Analysis

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There are numerous examples of metafiction in The Things They Carried; many are clear, and some are harder to notice at first glance. In the text, author Tim O’Brien uses a metafictional writing style to vividly illustrate what emotions and thoughts went through the minds of the soldiers fighting in Vietnam, including himself. It is unclear whether or not some of the stories he tells in the text actually happened, but there is no doubt that they are paramount to the underlying objective of O’Brien’s writing style: to use realistic scenarios that may not have actually happened, to make whatever changes necessary to the story to get his point across. Tim O’Brien uses metafiction to obscure the line between truth and fiction by manipulating details that trigger certain emotions to influence the reader. Metafiction allows writers like Tim O’Brien to manipulate what is held to be truth, and fabricate certain details in an attempt to enhance or reinforce the meaning of a story. There is no doubt that O’Brien actually went to Vietnam, however, there is some doubt that events that occurred within the text actually happened. When addressing these occurrences, he uses language that leads the reader to believe that the account itself may be fictional. For example, in “How to Tell a True War Story” alone, O’Brien essentially convinces the reader that many of his accounts in Vietnam are fabricated. He goes to the extent of saying things like:
“In many cases a true war story cannot be

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