Friday, August 13, 2010


Okay listen here, Mr. O'Brien. This whole book is diminishing before my eyes. He just spent an entire novel describing "his own experiences" in Vietnam to turn around and tell the reader that all of them weren't true. Was that really necessary? I feel like the book would have been better if he would have kept that little detail to himself. Now the book feels different to me, like it doesn't mean as much. Granted, I understand his point that all of these incidences very well could have happened, but the central point of why I liked this book is now gone - the fact that it was a personal story. This is an exemplary illustration of ambiguity. O'Brien is completely contradicting himself this entire chapter. Honestly, I don't see where his logic is going at all. He may think he convinced his readers of some greater point of "story-truth" and "happening-truth", but he didn't at all. What I took from this chapter was that he lied and has convinced himself it was some method of channeling his personal guilt through writing.
"Here is the happening-truth. I was once a soldier. There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and afraid to look. And now, twenty years later, I'm left with faceless responsibility and faceless grief... What stories can do, I guess, is make things present. I can look at things I never looked at. I can attach faces to grief and love and pity and God. I can be brave. I can make myself feel again." (page 172)
Like I said, he convinced himself that this helps but seeing as how he took this long to inform the reader, I feel like the book is a fabrication.


  1. I felt the same way as you Rachel, but I will point out that on the title page, just yonder from the "Books by Tim O'Brien" page, it does say

    The Things They Carried
    A Work of Fiction By
    Tim O'Brien

    I even saw that before reading and I still felt betrayed. I'd say it's inevitable.

  2. Ahhh you're right! I just looked! I guess that's what I get for skipping the title page and going straight for the story.