AP English Lang/Comp
15 March 2015
War Story Synthesis Essay
J. Hayden Stainburn, although not an actual individual, provides the strong point in his passage that true war stories are not masked by heroism or structured around propaganda. True war stories are overflowing with obscenity and horror, not glorified accounts of time in battle. A true war story is not really about war, it is about understanding. In an excerpt from
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, the narrator elaborates on what a true war story really is: “If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted… then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie… There is no virtue” (O’Brien 6869). What this means is that genuine war stories should bring about no moral rouse; they should bring sorrow, and the listener, if actually listening, should not find that they enjoyed the story.
The point of a true war story is to describe the dark realities that come as a part of war. War not only physically harms the soldiers who partake in the fighting, it also cuts deep into the mental health of those troops. In the article “Suicide Surpasses War as Leading Cause of U.S. Military Deaths,” Gregg Zoroya explains how the psychological aspect of modern warfare is becoming more difficult for soldiers as time
Quiroz 2 passes and as new warfare technologies emerge. Zoroya gives statistics supporting the claim that more soldiers die from suicide now than they do from actual battle: “War was the leading cause of death in the military nearly every year between 2004 and 2011 until suicides became the top means of dying for troops in 2012 and 2013” (Zoroya 1). This reveals aspects of war that many war stories make attempts to hide. As previously stated, many war stories are used as vessels for spreading propaganda and American military heroism, but the statistics given in Zoroya’s article show the true face of warfare and its effects on the troops.
True war stories demonstrate a soldier’s feeling of isolation during, and after, the fighting. Another characteristic of a true war story is the fact that the listener must actually listen to truly understand the storyteller’s feelings. Gregory Orr in the article
“The Making of Poems” makes a connection between listeners and storytellers, and human isolation, “Because poems can be shared between poet and audience, they also become a further triumph over human isolation” (Orr 6). This relates to war stories because both the storyteller and the listener must understand what is being said in order to fully convey the message of the story. If the listener is not actually listening, the truth of the war story will be concealed from the listener, much like how if a poem is not read attentively, the main points will be missed leaving only a vague understanding of the poem’s true meaning.
Many war stories told do not show the harsh reality of what war truly does to a soldier. Soldiers see things during war that most people could not imagine, and this greatly affects them psychologically, making it difficult for them to go back to the daily