This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Relationship Between Fiction And Reality Explored In The Things They Carried

1334 words - 5 pages

Relationship between Fiction and Reality Explored in The Things They Carried

 
    In many respects, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried concerns the relationship between fiction and the narrator. In this novel, O'Brien himself is the main character--he is a Vietnam veteran recounting his experiences during the war, as well as a writer who is examining the mechanics behind writing stories. These two aspects of the novel are juxtaposed to produce a work of literature that comments not only upon the war, but also upon the actual art of fiction: the means of storytelling, the purposes behind them, and ultimately the relationship between fiction and reality itself.

 

Through writing about his experiences in Vietnam, O'Brien's character is able to find a medium in which he can sort through his emotions, since "by telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths" (158). He does not look upon his stories as therapy--he recounts his stories since they are a part of his past, and who he is now is the direct result of them: 

Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a life-time ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. (38)

 

O'Brien's character makes several comments on storytelling in certain sections of the novel, such as "How to Tell a True War Story." Through making these comments, the narrator is not only justifying the intent of The Things They Carried,but he is also providing clues to the content, structure, and interpretation of the novel. The narrator states that one fundamental truth is that "In any war story, but especially a true one, it's difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen....The angles of vision are skewed" (71). This novel is written in this way: characters such as Curt Lemon are killed and then later introduced, or the narrator undercuts what he has previously lead the reader to believe, as in the case of Norman Bowker's suicide. A true war story is distinguishable "by the way it never seems to end. Not then, not ever" (76). None of the anecdotes in this novel demonstrates complete closure, except perhaps in the case where the character was killed. Even then, however, that particular loss had an impact upon the lives of the people who have survived. Even the end of the novel itself is indefinite and without resolution. 

 

Most importantly, "In a true war story, if there's a moral at all, it's like the thread that makes the cloth. You can't tease it out. You can't extract the meaning without unraveling the deeper meaning" (77). Through extracting the true meaning of The Things They Carried, it is impossible to miss the deeper ...

Find Another Essay On Relationship between Fiction and Reality Explored in The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried Essay

1581 words - 6 pages carried with great accuracy and detail. The things they carried as they are depicted in the story represent literal things, emotional things, psychological things and symbolic things all weighing in at different levels of importance. There were physical as well as emotional things they carried on their missions, both were equally burdensome. O'Brien states that during missions many of these items were discarded no regardless of their importance to

The Things They Carried Essay

1707 words - 7 pages )”. They also carried various things that they came upon that they thought could help them survive until tomorrow. The weight that the men carried was only partly physical, the mental and emotional ‘weight’ was almost as much to carry as the physical objects the men trudged with. In fact, the mental weight and the stress of having to maintain a facade that they were not afraid were the heaviest weighing upon the deepest parts of the soldiers

The Things They Carried

1000 words - 4 pages "The Things They Carried," is a fiction story-telling book about the Vietnam War by Tim O'Brien that describes the physical and emotional burdens the men carry not only during their time in Vietnam but also years after leaving the warfront. The book is a series of stories told with O'Brien as the main narrator. O'Brien tells of the journey he takes alongside his unit, revealing his fight for courage and decision to commit to the serving in the

the things they carried

1095 words - 5 pages carried by soldiers and at other times there is an in depth look at the thoughts and feelings of the soldiers as they make their way ahead in the war. The story is not about the physical things the soldiers carried, but rather remembering the emotions that they carried, so the world would know who they were, what they did and why they were fighting. O'Brien's writing style in this story blurs the image between fact and fiction and brings the

The Things They Carried - 641 words

641 words - 3 pages The Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienIn the short story The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, the author explores human nature and the emotions that are carried with them. This emotional baggage is represented by the love that a soldier feels towards a girl back home. It is contrasted by the everyday things they carry while at war. Ultimately this story deals with the theme of growing up and taking responsibility.One of the clever aspects of

The Things They Carried - 1555 words

1555 words - 7 pages In Tim O’Brien’s novel, “The Things They Carried,” imagination is seen to be both beneficial and harmful. This novel consists of a story truth and a real truth. Tim O’Brien writes the book about the Vietnam War based primarily on his memory of the war. He does not remember every detail of the war, thus he makes up some false details to make the story seem more interesting. He does not only describe his own experiences, but also describe the

The Things they Carried

1053 words - 4 pages Untitled The Things They Carried In The Things They Carried O'Brien Challenges such Traditional concepts of war stories such as courage, bravery, heroism and masculinity. Though their painful experiences his characters are burdened by fear shame and guilt... the things they must carry for the rest of their lives. Bold, brave, strong rugged, heroic, laughing in the face of hardship, adversity and even death. These are the

The Things They Carried

1646 words - 7 pages . Tim O’Brien accomplishes basically the same goal in The Things They Carried by giving the reader many brief stories about his time in the Vietnam War. These two books- though incredibly different on the surface - share a plethora of themes and symbology, as well as many similar events. They do not, however, emphasize or present these ideas in the same way. Each of these authors has a unique way of incorporating their own themes or values into

The Things They Carried

740 words - 3 pages Vietnam War a war that took many lives. A war that change the people,the nation and our views. In “The Things They Carried” by Tim O'Brien, symbolism is the key into getting the reader understand life behind the line. Tim O'Brien writing give the readers the vivid image through the fact the war has a deeper meaning than one can believe. In this story we see how everyday life through symbols are used in literature writing. In this short story

The Things They Carried - 1026 words

1026 words - 4 pages determination and to overcome this conflict he does not stop and turn back, but rather he marches on.It was very sad to him, the things men carried inside, for his case his obsession with Martha, was heavier than the detailed descriptive text of the physical items that were used in combat. Jim hides this change by juxtaposing it with his leadership of his platoon. Jim shows righteous behavior by telling his troops to move out and onward. From this point on

"The Things They Carried"

2145 words - 9 pages : AnInternational Journal of the Humanities 11.1 (1999): 240. Web. 08 Apr. 2014.Tomlinson, David. "'The Things They Carried' by Tim O'Brien". Zouch Magazine. Web. 11Nov. 2011.Heberle, Mark A. "A Trauma Artist: Tim O'Brien and the Fiction of Vietnam". Iowa City:University of Iowa Press, 2001. Web. 08 Apr. 2014.Smiley, Pamela. "The Role of the Ideal (Female) Reader in Tim O'Brien's The Things TheyCarried: Why Should Real Women Play?". The Massachusetts Review 43.4 (2002): 602. Web. 08 Apr. 2014.

Similar Essays

Fact Verses Fiction In O'brien's The Things They Carried

1500 words - 6 pages Fact Verses Fiction in O'Brien's The Things They Carried "The difference between fairy tales and war stories is that fairy tales begin with 'Once upon a time,' while war stories begin with 'Shit, I was there!'" (Lomperis 41). How does one tell a good war story? Is it important to be accurate to the events that took place? Does the reader need to trust the narrator? In The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien examines what it takes to

Things They Carried Essay: Strength In The Things They Carried

981 words - 4 pages means to them. The point of this paper was to present two different arguments from two different readers. These points of view were both able to answer the question, was Jimmy Cross stronger at the beginning of the story or at the end of the story, in their own way. Work Cited O'Brien, Tim. "The Things They Carried." Literature and Its Writers: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd ed. Ed. Ann Charters and Samuel Charters. Boston: Bedford, 2001. Pg. 392-405.  

Things They Carried In The Great Train Robbery And The Things They Carried

2280 words - 9 pages them back to the terrible reality of the war that they were in. This happened to Lieutenant Jimmy Cross in “The Things They Carried”. He had some of his civilian things on him like notes and cards. They had a very crippling effect on him. All these cards and pictures would do was distract him from the war. All we wanted to do was to go home and see Martha, the one person that he loved at the time, again. This distracted him from what has happening

The Things They Carried Essay

563 words - 2 pages Chandy Thorn Thorn 1Cynde DelauderEnglish 11130 September 2014"In many respects, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried concerns the relationship between fiction and the narrator" (Friedlander 1). The story that O'Brien writes is not a true story, however he can relate to it because he was an active participant in Vietnam. Tim O'Brien wrote much more than a war time story. Tim O'Brien wrote a Story, of pain, hardship, love, and the heavy burdens