"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.
First, the reader must understand just what makes a good "war story". The protagonist of the novel, Tim O'Brien, gives us his interpretation of it in the chapter "How to Tell a True War Story".
A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit if rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil (O'Brien 68-69).
With this concept, we can assess and place value on the stories presented in The Things They Carried. Yet, it is still not that simple. The reader is continually challenged to question what is real and what is imagined. The evaluation of each narrator is constant. While the protagonist continues to remind the ...
... middle of paper ...
...y matter if they're true stories (Lomperis 54).
Bonn, Maria S. "Can Stories Save Us? Tim O'Brien and the efficacy of the text (The Vietnam War)." CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 36.1 (Fall 1994); 2-16.
Calloway, Catherine. "How to tell a true war story: Metafiction in 'The Things They Carried'." CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 36.4 (Summer 1995); 249-258.
Kaplan, Steven. "The Undying Uncertainty of the Narrator in Tim O'Brien's 'The Things They Carried'." CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 35.1 (Fall 1993); 43-53.
Lomperis, Timothy J. "Reading the Wind" The Literature of the Vietnam War . Durham: Duke UP, 1987.
Neilson, Jim. Warring Fictions: American Literary Culture and the Vietnam War Narrative. Jackson: Mississippi UP, 1998
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried . New York: Broadway, 1990.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- the things they carried truth The definition of truth is the epitome of what we we all perceive to be reality. Truth is what we sometimes think about in the back of our head, but we are unsure of whether this truth is really “true.” The objective correlative is another term that is used to refer to truth. The objective correlative is getting enough people to feel the same emotion and agree upon it. Objective correlative also refers to the objective truth or the facts. It’s trying to get the subjective truth to become objective, then subjective for each person.... [tags: Truth, Objective Fact, Literary Analysis]
2258 words (6.5 pages)
- Fact Verses Fiction in O'Brien's The Things They Carried "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.... [tags: Things They Carried Essays]
1458 words (4.2 pages)
Wilfred Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est, Tim OBrien's The Things They Carried, and Siegfried Sassoon's Suicide in the Trenches
- Wilfred Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est, Tim OBrien's The Things They Carried, and Siegfried Sassoon's Suicide in the Trenches Many war pieces express a distinct sense of truth, hatred, and anger that can be found in the style, tone, and imagery they possess. Incredible images are created in ones mind as war writings are read and heard. Works written by such writers as Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and Tim OBrien really reach out to the audience by way of the authors choice of words and images that they use in their writing.... [tags: Owen Dulce OBrien Carried Sassoon Essays]
1362 words (3.9 pages)
- Relationship between Fiction and Reality Explored in The Things They Carried In many respects, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried concerns the relationship between fiction and the narrator. In this novel, O'Brien himself is the main character--he is a Vietnam veteran recounting his experiences during the war, as well as a writer who is examining the mechanics behind writing stories. These two aspects of the novel are juxtaposed to produce a work of literature that comments not only upon the war, but also upon the actual art of fiction: the means of storytelling, the purposes behind them, and ultimately the relationship between fiction and reality itself.... [tags: Things They Carried Essays]
1221 words (3.5 pages)
- The warm summer breeze lifts your hair from the nape of your neck. The tree’s leafs rustle above your head, as you sit at the foot of their tree. The edge of the pages from your latest fiction novel flicker as you hold the page down to continue your viewing of the world their author has created for you to read. You smile when the protagonist has a small victory, cry when they fail, and even laugh out loud to the jokes they tell. You are in the world made up just for you; you are in a land of fiction.... [tags: Literary Analysis]
2446 words (7 pages)
- Author and Vietnam veteran Tim Obrien writes of the horrors of the Vietnam War through a collection of related short stories in his novel, The Things They Carried. It is a work of fiction mixed with bits of truth based on his experiences during the war. The novel is heralded by many as a modern classic and one of the quintessential novels to read in a lifetime. The novel has inspired two feature films, and can be found on the required reading lists of high school history classes and college literature courses across the United States.... [tags: Tim Obrien, Vietnam veteran stories]
1552 words (4.4 pages)
- Have you ever felt the feeling of butterflies in your stomach or heard the phrase “my heart skipped a beat for you”. As children, we grew up learning from our elders and experiencing new beginnings in life. Much of our knowledge has been brought upon by what we see and hear, rather of what we know. Many important decisions we make in our life has to do with what our feelings show us. Love is an important matter in our life because it motivates us in different ways. Love can be shown through emotions or even through actions.... [tags: Love, Actions, Emotions]
2291 words (6.5 pages)
- Summarising the argument in the journal article Is she fact or is she fiction. Angela Carter and the enigma of women, Fernihough argues that gender is a performance, our ideas of masculinities and femininities become knowable through representations of them. The article states through performance we are able to break away from our sex/ gender dual notions which have become socially recognisable. Fevvers constitutes her identity through performance in which audiences are unable to distinguish between whether she is real or whether she is fake.... [tags: Article Analysis ]
934 words (2.7 pages)
- The Things They Carried: Truth, Fiction, and Human Emotion There are many levels of truth in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. This novel deals with story-telling as an act of communication and therapy, rather than a mere recital of fact. In the telling of war stories, and instruction in their telling, O'Brien shows that truth is unimportant in communicating human emotion through stories. O'Brien's writing style is so vivid, the reader frequently finds himself accepting the events and details of this novel as absolute fact.... [tags: Things They Carried Essays]
1260 words (3.6 pages)
- Introduction In this essay we present our research about the legend of William Tell and the conclusions of our research. In short the question we asked ourselves is: does the legend of William Tell contain truth or lies. Does it consist of facts or fiction. Before we tell the legend, we will describe the general historical context. After that, we will try to make a distinction between the facts and fiction in the legend. Finally, we want to show the impact William Tell had on the Swiss society. General historical context In the period until the Middle ages Switzerland was conquered by different dynasties and kingdoms.... [tags: Truth or Lies]
1886 words (5.4 pages)
- The Struggle for Identity in A Doll’s House
- Essay on Gender in William Shakespeare's Sonnets
- A Feminist Perspective of Measure for Measure and The Merchant of Venice
- An Examination of Rubyfruit Jungle and Her Critics
- Comparing Beloved and Night
- Comparing Edna of Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Nora of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House