The Things They Carried

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Essay: O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

Throughout Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried true events and emotional truth were intertwined and often confused. War is confusing. It is clear that each person in the story interprets the truth differently. When telling a war story, the actual events, and the feeling the events create are not the same. The intensity of the emotion differs. Tim O’Brien chooses to express the truth in a war story by embellishing the events that occur. He does this in order for the reader to feel what a true war veteran felt during the war. In The Things They Carried story-truth expresses the emotion of each soldier fighting in the war. It replicates that emotion and lets the reader feel it. It is more relevant than happening truth, because happening truth wouldn't always convey emotion.

The instant something is witnessed in war it is no longer the truth. Tim O’Brien states, “ you always look away and then back for a moment and then look away again. The pictures get jumbled; you tend to miss a lot” (71). The truth is instantly jumbled. When telling the story the person will add details and better the happening truth. It becomes the interpretation of the person witnessing it.

When embellishing the happening truth it becomes the story truth. Tim O’Brien writes, “there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed.” (71) Exaggeration brings feeling to a war story. The reader not only listens, the reader feels and understands the feeling the writer is giving off. A war story should make the reader feel what is read, not think what is read. Tim O’Brien says “It comes down to gut instinct. A true war story, if truly told, makes the stomach believe.”(71) For a war story to be a true war story, the reader should be able to feel the story inside of them. The reader should react as if the experience the writer...
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