If you don't care for obscenity, you don't care for the truth; if you don't care for the truth, watch how you vote. Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty. (How to Tell a True War Story.9)
It is directly related to Tim O'Brien's "How To Tell A True War Story" and may provide a further dose of reality to augment Tim's staggeringly effective prose.
Conflict Symbol: The water buffalo eyes- Resilience, fighting back, the "pathway to the soul"
Imagery: Reinforce love, anger In the chapter how to tell a true war story O'Brien explains that some war stories cannot be believed because most of the unbearable parts of the story are true, and the normal parts are not.
Love and war may seem like opposites at first; but they hold a complex relationship, especially for those individuals who are involved directly in the events occurring at a time of war. In this unit, students explore this relationship by examining texts on camaraderie among soldiers. After viewing a video on the topic and reading the short story "How to Tell a True War Story" by Tim O'Brien, students use freewriting as a means to develop a thesis statement stating their belief on the relationship between love and war. They then compose a visual collage depicting those beliefs.
This lesson was developed as a companion for a PBS documentary featured in the lesson. For additional information on the documentary and those who made it possible see .
“How to Tell a True War Story” is a story focusing on the alteration of the perceptions of the individuals within the society. This is through diverge presentation of the war event by integrating and incorporating concepts of the love and beauty in the narration. O’Brien indicates that the story is true rather than leave it to the audience to decide on its credibility. The story is about soldiers and fateful scenario where they lose their friends. The story narrates on the letter sent to the sister of the soldier (Lemon) who was killed during the event. The sister does not respond to the letter forcing Kiley to assign the blame with the aim of rationalizing the anger in relation to the situation. According to O’Brien, true war story does not portray elements of morality thus offering advice to the readers on the notion of believing any story that seems moral.
“How to Tell a True War Story” is a presentation of the traditional society with direct guidelines on the roles, duties, and obligations of the male and female members of the society (Stocks 178). The story presents a traditional setting focusing on the differentiation of the roles and expectations of the men and women within the context of the society. War activity reflects an event for the masculine because of the physicality, emotional strength, and management of the situation. The storyteller does not depict women as associates of the war thus weak gender. Women perform household chores and activities pertaining to upbringing of the children, taking care of their husbands, and other relevant homely duties. This is an illustration of the concept of masculine and feminism in the society. The author presents male chauvinism in the description of the themes and plot of the story because of the dominance of the male members of the society in relation to the war or conflict situations. The soldiers present the story of the war through reality of any misplaced anger rather than courage and aspects of heroism. The story focuses on the description of the ineffective and inability of the soldiers in handling their feelings following the horrible experiences adequately. The description of women as weak gender relates to the traditional view of female society members in relation to the physical activities and emotional attachment. Men have the ability to face the situation and present their story. It is a different story when it comes to women because of the emotional and physicality issues surrounding the situation. This enables the author to present the story in a beautiful manner thus focusing on the accommodation of the female gender within the society.
The presentation of “How to Tell a True War Story” focuses on the female audience (Calloway 249). This is through altering the story with the aim of meeting the needs and preference of the audience. The main aim of the storyteller is not to relay the main event and horrible experience of the war in relation to the presentation to the women. O’Brien indicates this when he says that when he tells the story to a female, he would wish the woman to approach him and note on the effectiveness and appropriateness of the story (Smiley 62). This is through acknowledging that she loves the story. He also notes the need to inform the woman on the concept of the love story rather than the war experience or event. To illustrate the target audience with reference to the alteration of the story, O’Brien focuses on demonstration of the death of Lemon as a love story. He ignores the ugly part of the story with the aim of illustrating the beauty of the horrible event from different perspectives.
From another gender perspective, it is essential to note on the concept of neutrality in the presentation of the story (Farrell 16). The storyteller focuses on integrating the female and male members of the society in the description of war event within this chapter. This is through provision of critical view on how to narrative a true war story with the aim convincing the audience on its content. The presentation of the true war story relates to the both male and female members of the society. This is through integration of various concepts such as emotions, anger, beauty, and love in the illustration of the story of this chapter. Morality is the main aspect in terms of the presentation of the true war story according to the storyteller. This is because morality is essential in making people believe in the content of the story. It is also ideal to stick to the content of the story in order to convince audiences on the credibility and integrity of the story.
O’Brien uses the case of the letter by Kiley to elaborate on the morality of the true war story and its impact in relation to perception of the audiences (King 182). O’Brien notes that it is difficult to believe a true war story because of the true parts that are unbearable within the context of the presentation. O’Brien also notes that it is difficult to tell a true war story because of the perception of the individuals in grasping its content. According to the storyteller, the significance of the war story relies on the ability of the audience to believe it within the stomach. This notion enables him to present the war story through integration of the concepts of the beauty and sunlight rather than the ugliness of the war. The storyteller concludes that the best he can do in relation to the war story is to continue presenting in the new version. This indicates the need to make things up with the aim of making people believe in the content of the story with reference to the true war story. The chapter offers an illustration on how to present a true war story thus enabling the reader to believe in the story. The true war story should not integrate contents of morality to make individuals believe in its content with much ease.
“How to Tell a True War Story” is a story focusing on the presentation of the true war story. It demonstrates credible and vital method in relation to the narration of the true war story thus neglecting the concept of morality in the presentation. The chapter focuses on the illustration of the relationship between the war experience and the aspects of storytelling with the aim of convincing the reader on the content of the story. There are various demonstrations of gender or feminism content in the presentation of this chapter. O’Brien focuses on the illustration of masculinity and feminism in the society through storytelling tactics and description. This is evident in the description of Lemon’s death as a love story, emotional attachment of Kiley in the context of the letter, and ignoring women in the aspect of horrible war experience.
Calloway, Catherine. “`How To Tell A True War Story’: Metafiction In The Things They Carried.” Critique 36.4 (1995): 249. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 211. Detroit: Gale, 2006. From Literature Resource Center.