How To Tell a True War Story

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Gore is Fantasy; Simplicity Relates Can a simple story enlighten its readers better than a story with a more vigorous and surreal backbone? In the story “How to Tell a True War Story,” by Tim O’Brien, it is easy to dispute which tale is the most convincing of a true war story’s emptiness. While some argue that the more grotesque and controversial stories have a larger impact on the reader‘s impression of what a true war story is, I believe, because of its easy relation to reality and unveiling of the theme, the opening story is the clearest demonstration of a true war story’s absolute solitude. The story of the water buffalo is by far the most gruesome. The image of this poor beast’s face became more eternal in my mind with every mutilating shot from Rat Kiley’s gun, sending it into a state of motionless misery. Kiley’s actions were a reflection of his angst and therefore, this story illustrates the ugliness of war. While I do favor the story’s passion, I find this story would be difficult for the majority of its readers to label as true, just as the narrator explains, “You can tell a true war story by the questions you ask….You’d feel cheated if it never happened. Without the grounding reality, it’s just a trite bit of puffery, pure Hollywood” (O’Brien 956). This tale seems too bizarre and melodramatic which creates a fictional sense, and so, contradicts the narrator‘s main point. The opening story of the unanswered letter is able to catch the reader off guard when it takes an unsuspected turn in the end. In the beginning, I predicted that the heartfelt letter from Rat Kiley was going to sway Curt Lemon’s sister into his arms. The nightmarish ending gives the reader a bitter hearty taste of what a true war story is all about. Also, the smooth transition between hilarity and sorrow in his letter was heartbreaking, which I thought could be anything but
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