Tim O Brien Literary Analysis

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In Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried the narrator, Tim O’Brien, often blurs the lines between reality and fiction. As a young soldier, O’Brien recalls the Vietnam war including the sounds, sights, and his emotions, while 20 years later he again shares his feelings and experiences of the same event. This same event, however, is told differently in order to help him cope with the emotional pain of war. The details become blurry as the pain is too great to endure. According to O’Brien, a true war story often can’t be told and that factual truth is often blurred by the emotional truth as told by the storyteller. With this, the line between reality and fiction is often has to be determined by the reader. Defined reality is what can be proven, while perceived reality is what is believed to have happened. In The Things they Carried, O’Brien is seen changing the truth in order to provide the reader a sense of the emotions of war, not a factual account of…show more content…
O’Brien says that a true war story is something you believe with your stomach and has no moral. For O’Brien, something isn’t true unless it feels true. A true war story should leave you with a deeper emotional connection. For example, the death of Rat Kiley’s best friend is a true war story because it has no moral. “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 been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie” (O’Brien 68). O’Brien says that Rat Kiley shooting the baby buffalo is a true war story because he believes it with his stomach and it has no moral. The story provides a stronger emotional connection between the characters and the experience as opposed to strictly providing a factual account of
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