Telling A True War Story Tm O Brien Analysis

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In the chapter “Telling a True War Story” TIm O’Brien recounts the different war stories people told him and how they are often misinterpreted. This passage is narrated by Mitchell Sanders. The passage concentrates on what six soldiers hear as they lay hidden in the Vietnam jungle completely silent.
Anyway, the guys try to be cool.They just lie there and groove, but after a while they start hearing - you won’t believe this - they hear chamber music. They hear violins and cellos. They hear this terrific mama-san soprano. Then after a while they hear gook opera and a glee club and the Haiphong Boys Choir and a barbershop quartet and all kinds of funky chanting and Buddha-Buddha stuff. And the whole time, in the background, there’s still that
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The men “hear” “gook opera” and “mama-san soprano”; that is, they hear sounds from their past memories combined with Vietnamese images of the present. Hallucinations of “cocktail party” sounds and glee clubs perhaps brought about by fear cause the soldiers to want to destroy these sounds with firepower. Sanders later says the moral of the story is that “Nobody listens. Nobody hears nothing.” The mindlessness of “trees talking politics” suggests the ways that people in government who are not factually fighting the war do not have a clue as to the reality of war and the horrors the soldiers face. It is a world where “monkeys talk religion” and a place that “talks” if one is able to listen. O’Brien suggests that the “true” story of war cannot really be told in story because to tell it would be to generalize it. There is an “essence” to war and to Vietnam that is real since the “place talks,” but one has to experience it firsthand and truly “see” or “hear” what is going on around him. In this scene, the boundaries between what is “real” sound and imagined sounds are blurred, just the way the boundaries or rules of war are blurred with no distinct edges or certainties. In this way, uncertainty elicits great fear from the soldiers, and they try to control their fear by getting rid of the “sounds” and voices they are …show more content…
Throughout this passage there is a sense of fact and fiction, which is something the rest of the book takes on as well. “And sometimes remember it will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That's what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future.” (34) O’Brien needs war stories for him to remember his past. There is an idea of war stories needing to be true but as O’ Brien states a war story is meant to make people belive, “It comes down to gut instinct. A true war story, if truly told, makes the stomach believe.” (73) In this passage the idea of nature talking is believable however Sander admits that some of the story was made up,“Last night, man, I had to make up a few things.” However it does not matter that it was made up the point of a war story is to be believable and turn someone's insides without generalizing and it doesn’t matter if it truly happened or not, because in one way or another it

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