Distorted Truth Essay

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Reality of a Distorted Truth In Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story,” he reveals the complex relationship between the war experience and storytelling. The story is half way told from O’Brien’s role as a soldier and the other half by his role as the storyteller. The narrative style that O’Brien uses proves that an author has the ability to mold the reader’s thoughts and opinions the way they want them. This is done much in the same way that war can distort a soldier’s perspective of right and wrong. Through his use of meta-fiction O’Brien allows the reader to witness the psychological impact of war and how it can distort the mind of a soldier. The different accounts of Curt Lemon’s death effectively allow us to see the distortion of the soldier’s minds.. O’Brien is able to show us the distortion of the way ugliness and beauty are perceived. The death of Curt Lemon is told almost as if it were a love story. O’Brien says, “It wasn’t a war story. It was a love story. It was a ghost story” (O’Brien 182). O’Brien’s graphic retelling of the situation makes it clear that it was a gruesome scene; however he describes the scene as beautiful, focusing on the sunlight rather than the carnage that was in front of them. Even as O’Brien and Jensen have to shimmy up the tree to throw down Lemon’s body parts the blood and carnage is not discussed. This unspecified and detached account of this action and the death in general, shows the way in which the members of the platoon deal with the complexity of the war experience. So much so that O’Brien is able to turn the story of Curt Lemon to a love story. Many go into a war story expecting to hear about triumph, pride, courage, and sacrifice. However, O’Brien claims that a true war story will shatter all previous expectations of a war story and instead be about evil and more obscene things. O’Brien says, “A true war
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