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    The Real and Fake Stories in The Things They Carried, a Book by Tim O’Brien

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    Whenever people tell stories, the narrator can tell it in various ways. In The Things They Carry by Tim O’Brien, mentions that “By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened” (158). Stories can be told with truthful or fake information depending on how the narrator wants to compose it.

    One way that many people tell stories is by providing honest information. In “Notes”, O’Brien writes about Norman Bowker’s letter that was written to him. Bowker’s letter contains a request for Tim to write a story about a guy who becomes mentally ill. Bowker shows examples of how Tim should write it: “What you should do, Tim, is write a story about a guy who feels like he got zapped over in that shithole. A guy who can’t get his act together…” (157).

    O’Brien creates a chapter, “Speaking of Courage”, after thinking about Bowker’s story suggestion for a month. In “Speaking of Courage”, O’Brien forgets to write about the night in the shitfield, but after Bowker’s death, Tim writes the truth about the shitfield along the Song Tra Bong. Truthful stories can be told depending on who tells it.

    Some stories are told with false information. One example is when Tim O’Brien admits that the story has false information to hide his guilt, “In the interests of truth, however, I want to make it clear that Norman bowker as in no way responsible for what happened to Kiowa. That part of the story is my own” (161).

    This explains that O’Brien must have killed a person when he was suspicious about Another example occurs in “How to Tell a True War Story” when Tim O’Brien hears a story from Mitchell Sanders. Sander’s story is very unbelievable, and O’Brien mentions that “It’s a question of credibility” (71). It mainly tells about a patrol that goes crazy after hearing stuff for a while. It can be interpreted in many ways, but we will never know if it would be creditable. Many stories, including some that are in this book, include fake orientation.

    The Things They Carried includes both real and fake stories that tend to mislead people. For example, in “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”, Rat would exaggerate the fact that he would sleep with four girls in one night. This had O’Brien mentioning that “Rat had a reputation of exaggeration and overstatement” (89).

    Also, when Sander’s girlfriend, Mary-Anne, comes over to Vietnam, she was intimidated by the fact of killing people is good. But later on, she would take many risks by going out in the ambush or wear a necklace of fancy jewelry. This reveals that stories can be told honestly and with hidden information.

    There are diverse ways people can tell stories by hiding the truths to look back at the events that he or she have done or tell it honestly, such as Tim O’Brien when he writes this novel. When O’Brien composes The Things They Carried, he writes with false and honest information. Tim mentions that “In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen” (71). For that reason, stories can be told with either dishonest or authentic information.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    The Real and Fake Stories in The Things They Carried, a Book by Tim O’Brien. (2022, Dec 12). Retrieved from

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