The Things They Carried Essay

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In O’Brien’s “Notes” he states that “story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.” There are a few big differences between the two: bias, exaggeration, and embarrassment to name a few. However, the most significant difference between story-truth and happening-truth is what the speaker personally experienced at that moment. Story-truth is the emotions that were felt during a time by a specific individual, compared to the actual happening-truth, which is from a different point of view. O’Brien demonstrates the point of view difference between story-truth and happening-truth in many different ways. In “Ambush” and “The Man I Killed” O’Brien goes into deep detail about how he killed the man on the trail, and how he looked after. From anyone else’s point of view, it’s just another dead Viet Cong soldier in a war filled with thousands of other deaths just like it. If anyone else in their platoon would have told a story about the man on the trail’s death, it would be short and sweet – to the point. However, O’Brien goes into incredible detail on exactly what happened – how time seemed to slow down and how he threw the grenade before even telling himself to throw it. He had no intention of killing the man, he just wanted to make him go away – “just evaporate” (148). To O’Brien, there is more truth in his story, compared to what actually happened – a happening-truth. To him, that is truly what happened based on his point of view, which makes a story-truth more truthful to him personally. A story-truth tends to give more personal bias and emotion than a happening-truth, but will be more genuine to the speaker. In “Speaking of Courage,” O’Brien shows that a story-truth is more accurate based on emotions felt. When Norman Bowker was unable to pull Kiowa from the thick mud, he describes the guild that falls over him after. He describes how he could have won the

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