English H A1
May 27, 2014
Does Fiction Reveal Truth?
“Artists use lies to tell the truth” (V for Vendetta). This passage can be related to all storytelling, whether it is in movies, poems or novels- authors and creators of such a story use certain lies to tell the truth. No matter how great the truth my sound to one person, that same story could be irrelevant to others, making it not enjoyable to watch or read. When a reader picks up a book, does the story give a vague description of what occurred? Or does the author give minute details on every page? We read books and marvel over movies to get away from reality; why? Because reality expresses the truth bluntly and with no sense of detail, while fiction turns reality and the truth into poetry.
For Tim O’Brien, the affects and guilt he faced stretched far beyond his time in the Vietnam War. Truth is connected to guilt in many ways. For instance, in “Good Form” ...view middle of the document...
He then goes on to say that even that part of the story is made up; he is intentionally confusing the reader and their understanding of truth and what separates the truth from fiction. "I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth" (O’Brien, 179). O’Brien discusses the guilt he had for watching the man die and by disorienting the reader’s thoughts on the truth, it shows that O’Brien himself did not truly know for sure the exact details of what happened that day. Guilt can mess with the mind and cause the “truth” to become less reliable.
O’Brien continues his story- recounting the many aspects of the war and what himself and his buddies did together. In chapter 7, Tim discusses that if a war story is true, it does not have any meaning behind it. "It's safe to say that in a true war story nothing is ever absolutely true" (O’Brien, 82). When a war story is told the audience is indifferent or happy after, the story is not true; there is never any good that comes from war. He also goes on to say that what seems to be true is often the most genuine truth there is. O’Brien does not wish to simply reminisce on his time in Vietnam but rather establish a bond between himself as a soldier and the audience reading the story. The readers may still like the story but by creating a “story-truth”, O’Brien can make the story more adventurous, thereby heightening the reader’s experience.
O’Brien contradicts himself many times throughout the novel; this is not by accident. He is demonstrating how the truth can be interrupted or changed by many different factors throughout the lifespan. By intentionally giving the narrator O’Brien’s own name and the rest of the soldiers the names of those he actually fought alongside, he blends the difference of fiction and truth. He thoroughly aims to create a story so blended with “story-truth” and “happening-truth”, that the impartial truth of the Vietnam War story is less relevant to that of actually telling the story. So the question remains- does fiction reveal truth? With the different techniques to incorporate story-truth into happening-truth, one may never truly know where the actual truth lies in a story.