True War Story

1094 Words 5 Pages
For centuries many authors have tried to capture the true essence of a soldier's experience during the war. In “How to Tell a True War Story” by Tim O’Brien, O’Brien expounds upon what constitutes a truthful account of war. There is a multitude of factors that go into creating a true war story. Based on O’Brien’s prerequisites, Kurt Vonnegut has succeeded. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is a true war story because of the lack of clarity that war brings both the author and the protagonist along with the blur between fiction and reality throughout the novel; furthermore, the novel’s absence of a definitive ending upholds its claim to be a true war story. Throughout Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut emphasizes the lack of clarity that war …show more content…
O’Brien claims that at the end of a war, there isn’t much more to say except “Oh” (O’Brien). In this phrase, O’Brien conveys the lack of certainty and understanding left at the end of the war. He explains that a true war story is not supposed to uplift or comfort. Conversely, a true war story expresses the evil that is seen by so many soldiers, an evil that many lay people never witness. There is not much more that can be said about it in the end. Vonnegut carries this sentiment throughout Slaughterhouse-Five as well. Vonnegut states that “there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre” (Vonnegut). He then goes on to explain that there is not anything said at all, only silence and the birds who break it. The birds break this silence with a phrase Vonnegut considers all that is needed to be said, “Poo-tee-weet” (Vonnegut). Vonnegut’s sentiment about the end of a war …show more content…
Billy believes he has become unstuck from time and everyone else has not. While Billy is resting against a tree behind enemy lines in the midst of the Battle of the Bulge, he sees a “violet light-and a hum” (Vonnegut). This leads him to believe that he is traipsing through past, present, and future without any order. Billy is with his mother at a nursing home in 1965. Billy is with his son at a banquet in 1958. Billy is with optometrists at a New Years Eve party in 1961. Truthfully, Billy is still behind enemy lines in 1945. In reality, Billy has become unstuck from himself. He comes to believe that he has been abducted by aliens, Tralfamadorians, who taught Billy how to time travel. Comparatively, at the bookstore, Billy finds a novel by Kilgore Trout about “an Earthling man and woman abducted by extraterrestrials… put on display in a zoo” (Vonnegut). At this moment, Vonnegut makes the connection between how Billy’s reality has blended into another’s fiction. O’Brien explains that in war, “you lose your sense of the definite” (O’Brien). It is that very loss that makes a true war story ever so true because, in the end, nothing is really true in a war story. O’Brien’s belief in this concept further legitimizes Slaughterhouse-Five’s standing as a true war story. Vonnegut emphasizes the drastic effect the war has left on Billy’s psyche with

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