Personal Essay about the writing tactics in "The Things They Carried" by Tim O' Brien

Essay by rdsox41College, UndergraduateA, November 2007

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The Reality of WarHave you ever wondered about the importance of truth when telling a story? "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien is a collection of stories based on the Vietnam War which includes streams of memories, discontinuous events, observations, and insights that provide the reader with a glimpse of the experience of war. These stories are told by different soldiers conveying the idea that a true war story has very little to do with what actually happened, but rather have a deeper underlying argument. The way in which the stories are written mixes a sense of reality with O'Brien's own twist on actual events. As Tim O'Brien conveys his messages through these stories, it becomes evident that fiction may often ring truer than the truth itself.

Throughout the novel, there are numerous instances of fabrication to create a scenario in which the events of a real experience can be expressed in their own unique/effective way.

This novel has an abrasive realism about it so much so that O'Brien feels compelled to remind us that most of these stories never happened. They are based on truth but are told with the intention of stirring emotions. By inventing scenarios based on fact, O'Brien hopes to make people feel how he felt. Even if people have no reference for war in their own lives, they can get a sense of what O'Brien felt and grasp the passion and conviction that is so often aligned with a war experience. As O'Brien recalls, ". . . a true war story cannot be believed...Often the crazy stuff is true and the normal stuff isn't, because the normal stuff is necessary to make you believe the truly incredible craziness" (71). This quote begins to give the reader an idea about how complex a war experience...