In his assessment of storytelling, O’Brien highlights the challenges of telling stories by including many tales that take place after the Vietnam War. For example, back in America, the soldier’s of Vietnam found it very hard to tell stories because of a problem with their audience. Specifically, this issue is apparent in Norman Bowker’s and Tim O’Brien’s experience. In “Speaking of Courage,” Bowker attempts to tell the death of Kiowa to his deceased friend named Max, his father, and Sally Kramer. Unfortunately, none of these characters seem to actually care about the story Bowker tries to tell. In reality, they will never understand what any part of a story is actually about simply because they were not there in Vietnam. As a result, Bowker has serious difficulty finding a single person to listen to his story.
Similarly to Bowker’s experience, Tim O’Brien also has difficulty finding an audience to listen to his story. In “Field Trip,” Tim O’Brien takes his daughter to see the site of Kiowa’s death, which is about a two-hour ride from Quang Ngai City on bumpy, dirt roads. Not knowing why they’re on a grassy field in the middle of nowhere, O’Brien’s daughter becomes impatient and asks if they can leave ...
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...pecting that the monks’ sacred place, but it actually represents a much larger theme in the novel. If you consider Kiowa and Dobbins to be the United States and the church to be Vietnam, this comment refers to how the United States Army doubts the morality of its purpose and position in Vietnam. These two stories are great examples of how, according to O’Brien, stories can convey deeper meanings or have no meaning whatsoever.
In O’Brien’s text, he analyzes the art of storytelling much like one would expect from an experienced author, working his ideas into his own stories and the novel as a whole. Overall, O’Brien successfully manages to provide a synopsis of the challenges of storytelling, the effects of time on memory, the role of imagination in storytelling, the reason for retelling a story, and a story’s purpose and process in his novel, The Things They Carried.
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