Truth or Lie?

Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things They Carried, is an entire book based on the narrator’s daring stories in the Vietnam War; however, O’Brien dedicates a chapter to admitting that he has fabricated his stories. After reading this chapter, titled, “Good Form,” I was thoroughly intrigued to why O’Brien would inform the readers that he fictionalized a book that seemed to have a deep connection to stories of war. The majority of the book was a fast read because of his suspenseful stories, but when I hit this chapter, I stopped to contemplate O’Brien’s rationale. After rereading the chapter, I concluded that it was a brilliant message that O’Brien wanted to convey. After admitting that he has made up some of the largest incidents in the book, O’Brien explains, “I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth” (171). O’Brien could care less about the facts or falsities that he writes about. Rather, he wants to get across the emotions and the deep complexities that people face during times of war. After understanding his argument, I am very glad that O’Brien included “Good Form” in his novel instead of leaving it out and continuing his short stories. It does not matter whether O’Brien truly fabricated his stories or not, but it is important to recognize the soldiers’ emotions rather than the dramatic events that they have experienced. “Good Form” creates another perspective on war that I would not have recognized if it were not for this chapter.


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