Antithetical Characteristics Of Truth In The Things They Carried By Tim O Brien

1065 Words 5 Pages
The book The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is full of twists and turns that leave the reader wondering what is true and what is not. His complex writing not only makes one question the truth, but also teaches them about what it is. Through this novel, the author teaches his audience that truth is arbitrary. To support this idea, O’Brien writes about the process and composition of storytelling, explaining that there is a difference between two types of truths which he calls “story-truth” and “happening-truth”. He furthers his teaching by discussing antithetical characteristics of war to show that truths can be contradictory. O’Brien’s idea is supported by these explanations and the argument that truths can vary because they are based on …show more content…
Something can be perceived as one thing, but also be the complete opposite. Although attributes of an event, idea, or item can be complete opposites of each other, they are still both truths about the thing at hand. An example of this is, “It can be argued, for instance, that war is grotesque. But in truth war is also beauty. For all its horror, you can’t help but gape at the awful majesty of combat” (87). So war is both grotesque and beautiful, although these two things contradict each other. Therefore, a truth can be anything that something is perceived to be. It can be two things at the same time. Although it is a commonly known truth that war is a horrible thing, it is also a beautiful thing because of people 's uncanny curiosity, interest, and excitement about it. The idea that truths are contradictory is further explained by Stephen Crane’s poem when he writes, “Make plain to them the excellence of killing and a field where a thousand corpses lie”. Crane is explaining that killing can be seen as good because in war it brings honor to your country, you receive some sort of glory and respect, and it takes training and skill. But he also explains that killing is horrible and grotesque by painting a picture of a disturbing image where there are many dead bodies. So truths can contradict each other, which proves that truth is …show more content…
But all the lines in this story are completely intentional and work to prove a point of his. When he leaves you questioning what in the book is real and what isn 't, he is teaching you all about the concept of “truth”. He explains the difference between “story-truth” and “happening-truth”, how truths are contradictory, and that they are based on perspective. All these explanations help prove his lesson that truth is arbitrary. His ideas are further supported by many other texts including Do Not Weep, Maiden, For War is Kind by Stephen Crane. Although we may not always know what really happened when we are being told a story, we can keep in mind O’Brien’s lesson that truth is

Related Documents