Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Another paper I wrote for school that I found interesting
March 28, 2017
Intro to English Paper 2
How to Tell a True War Story – Tim O’Brian
Fiction can be more truthful than Non-fiction (especially a war story)
There are many different ways to tell a true story and get the moral of it across. One of the ways that doesn’t seem like a good way is to make up a story with elements of the truth. You’d think this would be obvious but it’s actually more obvious to do the opposite. You see, the truth can be lost in a real story from one person’s perspective and they’ll lose details or not realize them when the event is occurring that may be picked up by others. You would need more than one person to tell a true story so you can get all the details and perspectives, but even then, the scenario can blind all the writers. This is true especially in war as confirmed by Tim O’Brian in his story The Things They Carried and in a certain short story called How to Tell a True War Story. He says in an early segment that, “In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen. What seems to happen becomes its own happening and has to be told that way. The angles of vision are skewed. When a booby trap explodes, you close your eyes and duck and float outside yourself. When a guy dies, like Lemon, you look away and then look back for a moment and then look away again. The pictures get jumbled you tend to miss a lot. And then afterward, when you go to tell about it, 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”. This paragraph perfectly says what an event in war would do to someone and how it affects them when they try to recall what happened and what the facts are.
There are many things that fiction can do like add in believable details that would be missing from someone’s memory or in some cases where the truth is hard to believe so they need those fake details to make sense. You can fit an entire moral lesson and true story into an entirely fictional character who acts real, but isn’t and probably wouldn’t exist in this world though they seem they would. Many details in all fictional stories have elements of truth in them and are what ground the story into reality that gives readers the lessons and experiences the author wants. Tim O’Brian enforces this in the previously mentioned chapter by saying that, “Without the grounding reality, it’s just a trite bit of puffery, pure Hollywood, untrue in the way all such stories are untrue. Yet even if it did happen and maybe it did, anything’s possible even then you know it can’t be true, because a true war story does not depend upon that kind of truth”.
This part can be continued with a previous part that says that, “In many cases a true war story cannot be believed. If you believe it, be skeptical. It’s a question of credibility. Often the crazy stuff is true and the normal stuff isn’t because the normal stuff is necessary to make you believe the truly incredible craziness”. Tim O’Brian’s story is an argument for fiction being more truthful than fact just by looking at this paper with most of it taking up most of it since it defines the point so well with the story and the author being the best example of this truth. A war story is the best example of a story that needs some fictional details to feel complete and real. Soldiers and others will be consumed by the violence and sorrows of war without really taking notice of the details of their surroundings and who can blame them? If they do then they might be shot or captured by their enemy. A filling in of fictional details is almost necessary for these kinds of stories given the way war is and how it affects those caught in the crossfire of its horrible ways.
In conclusion, true stories, especially true war stories can never be told without a little fiction. Some of the greatest fiction stories ever made have the greatest truths about reality in them that most other non-fiction books have. Tim O’Brian’s story, The Things They Carried is one of the best examples of fiction helping fact and getting the reality of war, in this case the Vietnam War, across to readers in a way that feels real without being one-hundred percent real. The last part I will quote is a part in the ending segment of the short story mentioned where it says that, “In the end, of course, a true war story is never about war. It’s about the special way that dawn spreads out on a river when you know you must cross the river and march into the mountains and do things you are afraid to do. It’s about love and memory. It’s about sorrow. It’s about sisters who never write back and people who never listen”. Of a course a war story can be many things like how you can make different kinds of fictional stories. The truth can set you free in all cases, but the way you arrive at that truth can differ, whether it’d be through watching the actual events play out or through the telling of a fictional story based in reality.
at 7:04 AM