Reality vs. Fiction

In: English and Literature

Submitted By baileynicole
Words 613
Pages 3
Bailey Krumwiede
AP Literature Hr. 5
Ms. Hand
4 October 2013
Reality or Fiction Reality is the actual person, entity, or event. Fiction is not necessarily based on fact; it is produced by the imagination. By giving the narrator his own name and naming the rest of his characters after the men he actually fought alongside in the Vietnam War, O’Brien blurs the distinction between fact and fiction. The reality is that Tim O’Brien is a real person and he is the author of The Things They Carried. O’ Brien did actually serve in the Vietnam War as a soldier. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know whether or not any given event in the stories truly happened to O’Brien. Through writing about his experiences in Vietnam, O’Brien’s character is able to sort through his emotions, since “by telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down the certain truths” (152). He doesn’t look upon his stories as a type of therapy; he recounts his stories since they are a part of his past, and who he is now is the direct result of them. O’Brien tries to explain the distinction of truth through “How to Tell a True War Story.” The narrator will introduce a character and undercut what he has previously lead the reader to believe, like in Norman Bowker’s suicide. A true war story is distinguishable “by the way it never seems to end. Not then, not ever” (72). In the case of O’Brien, his comments remind the reader that his stories are created. For example, before he starts talking about a gruesome story of the killing of a water buffalo, O’Brien writes, “This one does it for me. I’ve told it before—many times, many versions—but here’s what actually happened” (74). O’Brien is admitting that the story has been fictionalized. The readers are forewarned that the story has become an invention and the readers must remember that The Things They…...

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