Tim O’ Brien’s How To Tell A True War Story

667 words - 3 pages

Many times readers lose interest in stories that they feel are not authentic. In addition, readers feel that fictitious novels and stories are for children and lack depth. Tim O’ Brien maintains that keeping readers of fiction entertained is a most daunting task, “The problem with unsuccessful stories is usually simple: they are boring, a consequence of the failure of imagination- to vividly imagine and to vividly render extraordinary human events, or sequences of events, is the hard-lifting, heavy-duty, day-by-day, unending labor of a fiction writer” (Tim O’ Brien 623). Tim O’ Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story” examines the correlation between the real experiences of war and the art of storytelling. In O’Brien’s attempt to bridge the gap between fiction and non-fiction the narrator of the story uses language and acts of violence that may be offensive to some. However some readers agree that Tim O" Brien's "How to Tell a True War Story" would lack authenticity and power without the use of crude language and violence.
“How to Tell a True War Story" was filled with profanities that are characteristic of the language usage of the average sailor or soldier. The setting of “How to Tell a True War Story” was the Vietnam War where the word gook originated. Gook is a derogatory word used to describe people of Asian descent that can also be compared to the word nigger. The characters in the short story used the term effortlessly and repeatedly, “So they listen-And every night they keep hearing this crazyass gook concert” (O’Brien 620). Although the word gook was crude and offensive, it was also necessary to convey the feelings of hate that the soldiers possessed toward the enemy during war.
While the letter that Rat Kiley had written to Curt Lemon’s sister was to him heart- felt and personal it was actually filled with violence and...

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