A Literary Analysis of How to Tell a True War Story Essay

1809 Words Jan 27th, 2009 8 Pages
A Literary Analysis of How to Tell a True War Story The short story that will be discussed, evaluated, and analyzed in this paper is a very emotionally and morally challenging short story to read. Michael Meyer, author of the college text The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, states that the author of How to Tell a True War Story, Tim O’Brien, “was drafted into the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart” (472). His experiences from the Vietnam War have stayed with him, and he writes about them in this short story. The purpose of this literary analysis is to critically analyze this short story by explaining O’Brien’s writing techniques, by discussing his intended message and how it is displayed, by providing my own reaction, …show more content…
Allusions are also used in this story. Meyer defines an allusion as “a brief reference to a person, place, thing, event, or idea in history or literature” (1615). O’Brien writes, “‘Well, that’s Nam,’ he [Sanders] said. ‘Garden of Evil. Over here, man, every sin’s real fresh and original’” (479). O’Brien is alluding to the biblical story of the Garden of Eden and original sin. The intended message of this story is that true war stories are stories that people really do not want to hear. People want to think of war stories as glorious, victorious, and heroic, but O’Brien’s message is that no such true war stories are anything like that. O’Brien displays his message through his narration in between the war stories, and through the examples of the war stories themselves. He also sends the message that war stories are not about war at all. O’Brien writes, “In the end, of course, a true war story is never about war,” but it is about all the emotions and actions that have to do with it such as “love and memory,” “do[ing] things your are afraid to do,” “sorrow,” and “sisters who never write back and people who never listen” (481). O’Brien wants his readers to know that the truth within war stories is about the people involved in them and not about the questionable facts of the actual story. SparkNotes adds that O’Brien’s message concerns “the idea that the purpose of [war] stories is

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