“How To Tell A True War Story”
In Tim O’Brian’s short excerpt, How to Tell A True War Story, the narrator recounts his hardening experiances in the Vietnam War (1956-1975). O’Brian details the story of Rat during the war, and his experiances losing his best friend. Through the use of literary divices such as imagry, paradoxical ideas, as well as themes that juxtapose each other, O’Brian is able to deliver an effective message in reguards to the complex relationship between physical war and war stories. The use of imagery and discriptive language allows for a realistic experience for the reader, and ultimatly amplifies the audience’s percenption of the text. Additionally, paradoxies are included to add significance to the text by enhancing the subtle and more complex ideas and themes of the story. Similarly, stratetic juxtopostion of ideas and objects paralleling each other to emphisize the contrast, essentially creates a sense of anticipation and strengthens symbolism.
One of the main aspects of the story is the sensory details that are implimented to further transport the reader into the scenes of war. In parts of the story, first hand narratives are incorperated to bringing about a greater understanding of the dangers and thrills that constantly sorround Vietnam soldiers. In the middle of the story, O’Brien delves into the mission in which his friend Rat sees his best friend, Kurt Lemon, die by means of booby trap. He comments on the death of Lemon: “When he died it was almost beautiful, the way the sunlight came around him and lifted him up and sucked him high into a tree full of moss and vines and white blossoms” (2). The death of a fellow soldier seemed to have greatly affected...
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... savagely slaughtered by a hardened soldier, symbolizes the innocence of the two soldiers that had been savagely taken away by the realities of war.
The story not only recounts events, but also delves into the deeper meaning behind every war story. In O’Brien’s commentary, he alludes to the fact that the truth is often overlooked, and war is not a one toned subject. The truths of war are conflicting, for war can be an experience of both beauty and horror. The exerperiances that one must endure are inarticulate, and often filled with uncountable emotions. Through the use of literary devices such as imagry, paraxoxies, and juxtopositions of themes, O’Brian was able to create an affective short story that further informed readers of the ‘truth’ behind every war story. Thus, lessening the gap between physical war and war stories.
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