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How To Tell A True War Story B Tim O'brien

1444 words - 6 pages

In the text, “How to Tell a True War Story” Tim O’Brien expresses his thoughts about the true war story and how the war story is changed according to the person who tells it. Jon Krakauer illustrates Chris McCandless’s journey to the Alaskan wilderness and reasons for McCandless’s gruesome death in an isolated place, in his book “Into the Wild.” O’Brien relates introspection and a soldier’s war story by saying that the war story portrays the feelings of a soldier. A soldier’s war story is not the exact war story; it is the illustration of that particular soldier’s perception. Narrating a war is not like inundating others with facts and numbers but introspection of a soldier, because that soldier determines what to tell and how to tell the war story. While he tells the war story, he questions his thoughts and feelings. Krakauer not only elaborates the journey of McCandless but also expresses his experience of traveling to the Alaskan wilderness. This vicarious act of Krakauer ponders the inner thoughts of McCandless. McCandless embarked the journey to detach himself from surroundings and the people he lived with and explore more about him. Both Krakauer and O’Brien analyze about feelings of individuals who were separated from their comfort zones. O’Brien explains that when soldiers ponder the external environment they will contemplate their inner thoughts. Introspection is the practice of self-observing one’s thoughts and feelings. When a person analyzes experiences of another person it just gives peripheral thoughts about that person as well as the experience. Although it does not enlighten the complete idea, introspection of that experience gives a clearer idea.

A person’s experience has a profound meaning; therefore evaluation of that experience by another individual or by the same individual in a different time frame creates ambiguity. When explaining about the core of a true war story O’Brien says that “When you go to tell about it, there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed” (442). O’Brien’s usage of ‘surreal seemingness’ has strong connection with introspection. Introspection also resembles surreal and foggy thoughts about one’s experience in his life. In a soldier’s war story most of the parts are reflections of his thoughts rather than a literal story. During this Vietnam War period soldiers are disconnected from the place they are from and connection they had earlier. They can only interact with their fellow soldiers. This makes them to self-reflect their own thoughts and question their past experiences. As a result they elaborate the war story as how they look at themselves during the war period. McCandless intentionally disconnected himself from the civilization to discover more about his own self. Krakauer further illustrates this by saying “McCandless went into the wilderness not primarily to ponder nature or the world at large...

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