Truth: What is its Purpose?

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How can a person convey truth in a story about the past? Is it even worth looking for truth when the audience knows that this story has been reiterated a dozen times with each time being slightly different? The author of The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien, would say that the truth does not lie in the events told, but the emotions conveyed. The reason personal stories are told throughout time is not to pass on objective facts of a human’s life, culture, history, etc. but to convey a deeper meaning than chronological events. The question must not be, is this story true, but instead, what is reason behind the telling of this story. In TTTC, the point of each story and each reiteration is the psychological need to work through the trauma the characters faced in Viet Nam. The analysis of O’Brien’s latest novel can be centered on the meaning behind the telling of each story. The questions that will be answered in this paper are, why do the characters spend so much time looking for truth/moral/meaning in their stories, and, what is the purpose of them reliving, repeating, and changing their stories for the sake of an audience that might not understand them. It is known that TTTC is a war fiction novel so the subjects will be the soldiers in and out of combat, as well as real studies used when encountering veterans using coping mechanisms to function during and post-war. The first act of a soldier struggling with post-war life is the chapter, “Speaking of Courage,” when the character, Norman Bowker, is trying to work through the loss of a fellow soldier as he drives around his childhood hometown. “The war was over and there was no place in particular to go” (O’Brien 131), “As he came up, a pair of red flares puffed open, a soft blur... ... middle of paper ... ... O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Mariner, 2009. Print. Calloway, Catherine. "`How To Tell A True War Story': Metafiction In The Things They Carried." Critique 36.4 (1995): 249. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 4 May 2014. Muldoon, Orla T., and Robert D. Lowe. "Social Identity, Groups, And Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." Political Psychology 33.2 (2012): 259-273. Business Source Premier. Web. 4 May 2014. Wesley, Marilyn. "Truth And Fiction In Tim O'brien's If I Die In A Combat Zone And The Things They Carried." College Literature 29.2 (2002): 1. Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson). Web. 4 May 2014. Goodfriend, Wind. The Psychology of Joss Whedon. Dallas: Benbella, 2007. Excerpt. Chambers, John, Ed. The Post War Impact of Vietnam. The Ox. Companion to Ame. Military Hist., 1999. Web. 4 May 2014. .
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