Tim O'Brien does a fantastic job of blurring the lines of what is true and what is fiction in The Things They Carried. In fact, he often points out that he has made entire stories up, after the fact. He defends his decisions by proposing that what he has done is, in fact, not lie, but rather tell a story-truth. He argues that his reason for doing this is to bring the story to life more than it could live through the happening-truth. 'I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth' (O'Brien, 183). O'Brien believes that, when accompanied by vivid details which essentially make the reader view the scene as a dream, story-truths can carry greater emotional truths than ever possible to
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'Something about the story had frightened me --- I was afraid to speak directly, afraid to remember --- and in the end the piece had been ruined by a failure to tell the full and precise truth' (O'Brien, 153). Norman Bowker recognizes that there is no life to the story. In response to what Tim has written, he says, '”It's not terrible... but you left out Vietnam. Where's Kiowa? Where's the shit”' (O'Brien, 153). When Tim re-writes the story for The Things They Carried, he adds detail. n the version he shares with us in the book, he is able to muster up the courage to write the real truth; the story-truth. He re-writes the story with details beyond what really happened, and the story is brought to life. It was more believable than the original interpretation of the event, even though a lot of it is not happening-truth. Tim even admits that he added things to the story to make the reader dream a littler more.
'Although the old structure remains, the piece has been substantially revised, in some places by severe cutting, in other places by the addition of new material... In the interests of truth, however, I want to make it clear that Norman Bowker was in no way responsible for what happened to Kiowa. Norman did not experience a failure of nerve that night. He did not freeze up or lose the Silver Star of valor. That part of the story was my own' (O'Brien, 154).
He claims, 'It was a way of grabbing people by the shirt and explaining exactly what had