4 November 2013
“How to tell a True War Story;” A Critique In this chapter from his novel “The Things They Carried,” Tim O’Brien explains to the reader the importance of telling a true war story. Throughout this passage O’Brien explains how a true war stories don’t always have to be true to be believable.
Tim O’Brien is explaining his experiences during the Vietnam War, in this story he is telling about the grim death of one of his fellow soldiers Lemon. He describes his death by telling the story of how Rat Kiley writes a letter to Lemon’s sister and does not get a response from her. He then tells how Lemon dies in vivid, almost beautiful detail in a false setting. These stories lead to O’Brien’s description of the consequences and experiences of war. O’Brien also goes on to talk about how a true war story is both ugly and full of beauty. This ugliness and beauty is solely based on the perception of reality through the person who is telling the story and the person who is listening to the story.
“The Things They Carried” was published in 1990 and is a group of short stories roughly based on Tim O’Brien’s experiences while he was fighting in the Vietnam War. Tim O’Brien’s unique writing style meshes together fiction and non-fiction, he also uses lots of metaphors to explain his point throughout his stories. Some examples of metaphors used in “How To Tell a True War Story,” include how the soldiers carry things while the “hump” in a literal explanation a reader could believe that O’Brien is talking about each physical thing that the soldiers must carry, but in all honesty O’Brien is also talking about the emotional and mental baggage that each solider must deal with in war time.
This chapter is split into different stories and their explanations. O’Brien makes a point and then explains his point with a story from war time. The story is structured in a way that it seems like O’Brien is having a conversation with his readers instead of speaking at the readers. He engages the readers in a way that makes them feel like they are a part of the story. For instance, on page eighty, he asks “How do you generalize?” He also uses phrases like “this one does it for me,” and “this