lies save lives

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For much time the gruesome, jaw-dropping nature of war stories has lead readers to question their truth. This is particularly true in the emotional anecdotes told about the Vietnam War. Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried, is one of the first to address the idea of truth in his novel itself. Since O’Brien never confirms whether the factuality of his tales, many readers question whether the stories he weaves are actually true. O’Brien does not want for his audience to read so deeply into the facts and figures. To him it should not matter whether his tales truly happened. O’Brien’s greater purpose in writing of Vietnam is to share the stories he physically could not tell in a way that saves himself and society. He aims to use writing as self-release while also warning his audience of the horrors of war.
Tim O’brien uses his novel to share the stories he could not physically tell. It is only years after O’Brien comes back from war that he is able to write about his decision to go to war. He admits that he had never told the story “to [his] parents”, his “brother or sister” or “even [his] wife” (O’Brien 37). By“putting the facts down on paper”, even years later, O’Brien can “relieve at least some of the pressure on [his] dreams” (37). Since O’brien can not “[find] the courage” to talk to others about the way he is feeling, he writes down stories that capture his emotional essence in a way that provides a self-release (52). Likewise, when O’brien’s daughter Kathleen “asks [him] if he had ever killed anyone”, he cannot find a way to respond anything more than “Of course not” (125). Though he wants to “to tell her what happened, or what [he] remembers happened”, he cannot find a way to tell her. According to O’Brien “this is...

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...nd psychological change that war can cause on strong individuals. Through the stories of these characters, O’Brien wants to ensure that his readers will not go to war. Since O’Brien believes he was “a coward” because he “went to war”, he tries to protect the rest of society by explaining the effects of his bad decision (72).
Being a forty-three year old author writing about war decades after his experiences, it is of little concern to O’Brien whether he tells tales solely in line with the facts. He does not want the reader to care whether the stories he weaves actually happened, for he is only writing to “try to save lives with [his] stories” (232). His stories may be made up and his stories just might be complete lies, but the truth is irrelevant. More importantly, his stories save lives. They save his own, they save yours, and they save society’s.
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