How to Tell a True War Story by Tim O’Brien is a short story that belongs to the collection of stories in the novel The Things They Carried. The story discusses the relationship between the real experiences in war and the nature of storytelling. O’Brien applies fiction to examine fiction. The author, who is also a narrator and the main character of the story, tells several different stories, some of which are his experiences and others were told to him by fellow soldiers that served in the Vietnam War. He creates a list of what to do and what not to do in telling and believing or not believing war stories.
O’Brien says that there are many contradicting ideas, through which examination the sense can be made. If there is a moral in the story, it acts like a thread that makes the plot of the story itself. It is hard to understand the meaning without retrieving a deeper meaning. O’Brien teaches the reader a message of life through death, growth through pain, and the beautiful things through the horrible ones. The war stories become the way the soldiers survive. O’Brien uses stories and their transformations to show the dealing process the soldiers go through.
How to Tell a True War Story is written in a language, tone, and structure that are incompatible throughout the entire story. There are long and drawn out phrases, but some phrases are short and reach right to the point. O’Brien also uses harsh language, disconnected tone, and short structure of sentences.
The changing language, tone, and structure in the story are parallel to the narrator’s changing attitude about war and its events.
Each time the author changes the tome, language, and structure when he describes how Curt Lemon was killed. The first time the reader is introduced to the story, this episode is told in a beautiful almost poetic manner. While when the episode appears for the second time in the story, O’Brien uses fewer words to describe what happened. The language is also not as poetic as before, and the language is more military-like. Throughout the whole story, O’Brien’s choice of words changes like the attitudes about the events that happen to the soldiers during Vietnam.
How to Tell a True War Story by Tim O’Brien is a short story that belongs to the collection of stories in the novel The Things They Carried. The story discusses the relationship between the real experiences in war and the nature of storytelling. O’Brien applies fiction to examine fiction.