A Review Of Tim O 'Brien's The Things They Carried'

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With the trauma and blur of war, are there really any true war stories? In The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, the author tells about the things he experiences in the Vietnam War. O’Brien uses story truth, an exaggerated description of his memories, to reveal how he feels about the war and also uses happening truth, what actually happens in his stories, to show the reader how war is blurred. O’Brien tells his stories based on his memories and how he feels in that situation throughout the whole novel. However, memory is distorted in war, leading soldiers to perceive war differently than if they are clear headed. When O’Brien describes his first kill, he intensifies his description to reveal the emotion that occurs with his kill. O’Brien states “He had been born, …show more content…
O’Brien tells the readers the happening-truth, or facts, of what happens in the war. O’Brien explains that he did not actually kill the man in the My Khe. O’Brien remembers “I watched a man die on a trail near the village of My Khe. I did not kill him. But I was present, you see, and my presence was guilt enough,” showing that it did not matter if he kills the man (O’Brien 171). O’Brien feels an overwhelming amount of guilt about that man dying, that he blames it on himself. Sanders, like O’Brien, realizes that his story did not match what truth of the situation is. The day after Sanders tells the story of the chimes and xylophones, he comes to O’Brien saying “I [have] a confession to make... Last night, man, I had to make up a few things… The glee club. There wasn’t any glee club” (O’Brien 73). Sanders lies in his story, because after hearing the noises the six-men patrol attacked the village. This lead to guilt, because later Sanders realizes the real truth is that there is no crazy sounds. The contrast between story-truth and happening-truth gives the readers insight into how war is

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