The Things They Carried By Tim O ' Brien Essay examples

1324 Words Nov 21st, 2016 6 Pages
In Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, the concept of truth is developed and bent and flipped in on itself over and over, especially in “How to Tell a True War Story.” In this chapter, O’Brien sets abstract definitions to the seemingly concrete idea of truth. These definitions of a “true war story,” as convoluted and contradictory as they seem, all ultimately prove to be true, just as all versions of a story are true because the story changes as the emotions that drive it change. In the end, according to O’Brien, it’s the story that lasts, so it is the story that becomes the truth.
The definitions of a true war story, instead of the story itself, are the frame of this chapter; the stories are just examples. A true war story is defined by its “absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil” (66), and at the same time it’s “about sunlight” (81), but still it “does not generalize” (74). Not all the definitions are possible to uphold. The killing of the baby buffalo isn’t about sunlight, but that doesn’t make it not a true war story. It’s impossible to categorize any of the stories into one definition or another. Instead, the definitions are there to illustrate the concept behind a true war story, that is, to illustrate the idea that a story can come in many different forms, but still be the same story. “A true war story is never moral….A true war story cannot be believed….A true war story makes the stomach believe….A true war story often does not even have a…

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