The short story that will be discussed, evaluated, and analyzed in this paper is a very emotionally and morally challenging short story to read. Michael Meyer, author of the college text The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, states that the author of How to Tell a True War Story, Tim O’Brien, “was drafted into the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart” (472). His experiences from the Vietnam War have stayed with him, and he writes about them in this short story. The purpose of this literary analysis is to critically analyze this short story by explaining O’Brien’s writing techniques, by discussing his intended message and how it is displayed, by providing my own reaction,
The first three words of the chapter “How to Tell a True War Story” are, “This is true” (67). Although Tim O’Brien begins this chapter with such a bold and clear statement, throughout the chapter he has the reader thinking and confused when he contradicts himself by stating things such as, “In many cases a true war story cannot
Tim O’Brien uses two narrative techniques in “How to Tell a True War Story”. First he splits the story into three different sections. The first part being Rat Kiley writing his letter to Curt Lemon’s sister about the relationship they had. The next section is describing the correct way of writing a “true war story”. And the last is O’Brien looking back on stories and his story telling techniques. O’Brien separates the story into three different parts to give the reader an example of a story that is “true”. The next section would about the truth about writing a true story and the last section is his personal reflection on the whole situation. The other narrative technique is that O’Brien retells certain events. He retells how Curt Lemon died, he retells Mitchell Sanders telling a story, and he retells how women react when you tell them stories about the war. Tim O’Brien retells stories and
The author, Tim O'Brien, is writing about an experience of a tour in the Vietnam conflict. This short story deals with inner conflicts of some individual soldiers and how they chose to deal with the realities of the Vietnam conflict, each in their own individual way as men, as soldiers.
Throughout the chapter of “How To Tell A True War Story” the reader is conflicted due to the author’s writing style. Through O’Brien’s writing in the book, the reader is left to ponder between what the author says is true vs what the actual truth is. He writes, “In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen. What seems to happen becomes it own happening and has to be told that way,” (O’Brien 71). Tim O'Brien generally tells the reader that in war stories it is difficult to split apart the truth and what the truth seemed like. Therefore, the stories then become what may have seemed to happen because the truth gets mixed in. At the end of the chapter O’Brien says, “All you can do is tell it one more time, patiently, adding and subtracting, making up
In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien uses the art of fabricating stories as a coping mechanism. Trying to distinguish the difference between fictional and factual stories is a challenge in this book, but literal truth cannot capture the real violence that the soldiers dealt with in Vietnam, only “story truth” can. He explains, “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 victim of a very old and terrible lie.” (O’Brien 65). The novel illustrates that storytelling is a way to keep the dead alive, even if it may not be a true story.
Throughout Tim O'Brien's short work "How to tell a true war story" O'Brien has two reoccurring themes. One is of the desensitization of the troops during their hardship regarding the events of the Vietnam War, and the other is of the concept of truth. Truth may seem simple enough to explain, but is in fact endowed with many layers. The story is chalked full of contradictions, as well as lies, and embellishments, and yet O'Brien claims that these are the truth. The truth, whether it be war or society's, is in fact a concept that can be conveyed many times and in many ways. Whereas each is independently untrue, the combined collaboration of these half-truths is in essence the only real truth.
As stated in the thesis, Timothy O’Brien also writes his short story, “How to tell a True War Story,” in the first person narrative, although the style in which he narrates is quite different than from the style in “A & P.’’ O’Brien, who was an actual soldier in the Vietnam War takes on more of an autobiographical approach to telling his “true war story.”
Some were true while some were just to portray heroism and were filled with false facts. The story “How to Tell a True War story” written by Tim O’Brien illustrates the difference between true and fictional war sorties. To show this O’Brien used two different stories and compared them. In both the stories, the common theme is that war brings melancholy and pain to everyone. The first story was about two friends Curt Lemon and Rat Kiley. Curt Lemmon accidently dies by stepping on a barbed wire. The second story was about a military troop which was sent to check the enemy movements. Both the stories are based on real war situations. The book was published after the Vietnam
O’Brien’s unification of fact and fiction is to illustrate the idea in which the real accuracy of a war story is less significant than storytelling. The subjective truth about what the war meant and what it did to change the soldiers is more meaningful than the technical details of the
“ How To Tell a True War Story” By O’Brien is a complex story that scrutinizes the complex correlation that exist between war experience and the way stories are being told. Through anecdotes, O’Brien substantiates that a writer contains the ability to form its readers beliefs and viewpoint. Finding a meaning for O’Brien’s story was practically easy because through his anecdotes I was able to openly examine what O’Brien was
"The difference between fairy tales and war stories is that fairy tales begin with 'Once upon a time,' while war stories begin with 'Shit, I was there!'" (Lomperis 41). How does one tell a good war story? Is it important to be accurate to the events that took place? Does the reader need to trust the narrator? In The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien examines what it takes to tell a good war story. He uses his own experiences in Vietnam in conjunction with his imagination to weave together a series of short stories into a novel.
“This is true.” (O’Brien, 420) – with this simple statement which also represents a first, three-word introductory paragraph to Tim O’Brien’s short story, “How to Tell a True War Story”, the author reveals the main problem of what will follow. “Truth” – when looked up in a dictionary, we would probably find definitions similar to sincerity and honesty on the one hand, and correctness, accuracy or reality on the other hand. When looking at these definitions, one can make out two groups of meaning: While sincerity and honesty are very subjective, correctness or accuracy are supposed to be objective by nature. One can be sincere and still not report the truth, due to the simple fact
These are the stories that need to be told to the American public by the soldiers who experienced them first hand. Sadly these stories only come out in books and novels and are often deemed as “true stories that never happened,” as seen in Tim O’Brien’s work. There is a clear reason for this.
Throughout the book, O’Brien repeatedly states his struggles in telling “a true war story.” One of the obstacle he faces in telling “a true war story” is the readers’ misconception that “truth” must be an event and not an emotion. To begin, O’Brien claims “A true war story is never moral… If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted… then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie… you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil” (68-69) and “All of us… like to believe that in a moral emergency we will behave like the heroes of our youth” (38). In these two statements, O’Brien has shown us that people want not a