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Personal Essay About The Writing Tactics In "The Things They Carried" By Tim O' Brien

1411 words - 6 pages

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 can become. As O'Brien points out, "crazy stuff" can be a common occurrence during war. In addition, the whole experience of war seemed so surreal that it is difficult to sort out fact from fiction. As the human psyche often requires a fictional scenario to fully understand a situation, an audience needs a normal routine to know how a crazy moment transpired.There are other instances where O'Brien uses a story to exemplify a true war experience. O'Brien begins, for instance, about "Four guys [that] go down a trail. A grenade sails out. One guy jumps on it and takes the blast, but it's a killer grenade and everybody dies anyway" (83). In a war it is nice to think that there is always a real life hero that is there to save the day, but would a man instantly just jump on a grenade and save the whole platoon? Though this simple question may come to mind when you hear the story, there is no simple answer which can be offered. Wars are both spontaneous and eternal. Events can occur which a soldier may never remember. Yet, the bonds those situations generate can last a lifetime. What Tim O'Brien accomplishes is to express to his audience that when men are at war, they become family. They care and even die for one another regardless of all the hate with...

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