preview

Tim O Brien Truth

Better Essays
Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried was written as a collection of short stories centered around the Vietnam War and the after effects it had on the men that fought in it. The truth is one of the central themes in and around this book. The collection is classified as a work of fiction, yet there are many aspects of the book that leave its readers wondering whether these stories are rooted in truth. Since its publication in 1990, many readers have researched the author’s career as a soldier in the Vietnam War and compared what they know about his experiences there with what was written in the book. The truth is debated throughout the main character’s retelling of his war stories. “By telling stories, you objectify your own experiences. You…show more content…
The chapter starts with a single line; “This is true” (O’Brien 67). Afterward, O’Brien explains that he had a friend in Vietnam named Rat Kiley. Curt Lemon and Rat were playing catch with a smoke grenade one day when Curt stepped on a landmine and was killed. Rat wrote an emotion-filled, personalized letter to Curt’s sister after he died describing his friendship with her brother. After two months, the men realized Rat would not be receiving a letter in response. O’Brien used this instance as a synonym for war. He goes on in the chapter to write “a true war story is never moral” (O’Brien 68) and “in a true war story, if there’s a moral at all, it’s like the thread that makes the cloth. You can’t tease it out. You can’t extract the meaning without unraveling the deeper meaning. And in the end, really, there’s nothing much to say about a true war story, except maybe ‘Oh’” (O’Brien 77). As someone who didn’t agree with the decision to begin the Vietnam War, O’Brien reflects on the meaning of his actions in combat and realizes that men are losing their lives for very little in terms of reward for the United States. Later in the…show more content…
O’Brien starts this chapter off in the same way he started the last one; with a broad and powerful statement. “Vietnam was full of strange stories, some improbable, some well beyond that, but the stories that will last forever are those that swirl back and forth across the border between trivia and bedlam, the mad and the mundane” (O’Brien 89). In this chapter, O’Brien is stationed at a base camp in Vietnam. Another soldier, Mark Fossie, decides this assignment was safe enough that his girlfriend could come visit him in Vietnam and flew her there from the United States. Soon after Mary Anne arrives, she learns how to act like the men. She tends to wounded soldiers and changes her entire demeanor. No longer is she a very feminine character, but she seems like a hardened veteran even though she has never seen combat. Soon, Mary Anne begins to go missing for long periods of time and Fossie finds out she has been going out on ambush missions with another group of soldiers. Mary Anne begins staying in the Special Forces hut instead of with Fossie. When Fosse learns of this, he charges towards the hut to find her. What he finds isn’t what he expects. Mary Anne is dressed as she was when she arrived in Vietnam but she is wearing a necklace with human tongues stringed onto it. Mary Anne tells Fossie “you’re in a place where you don’t belong” (O’Brien
Get Access