The Truth Behind The “Sweetheart Of Song Tra Bong”

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Damaris Swass English 120 Professor Bradbury February 17, 2012 The Truth Behind the “Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong” When a narrator imparts a story on to an audience they are presenting their listeners with a small gift. Automatically the audience is inclined to think that this gift is simply the narrator's original intention for reciting the tale, whether that be to entertain, or reveal a moral. This is not the case. The narrator's actual gift is the re-creation of the events in their stories and the emotions that resonate within those stories. Their goal is to make you feel their story so deeply within the pit of your stomach that you know their words to be true. In a collection of short stories entitled, The Things They Carried, author Tim O'Brien reveals the marvels of storytelling by breaking down the barriers between fact and fiction, thus making it impossible to distinguish whether or not any given event in the stories truly happened. In the section “How to Tell a True War Story” O'Brien discloses how to ascertain the difference between a true war story and one that is untrue you should see no virtue, you should be skeptical, and you should feel the truth. In the section titled, “Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong”, O'Brien heeds each piece of advice he recited making his fictional war story true. When telling a true war story Tim O'Brien states that “[there] is no rectitude”, if at the end you feel uplifted or as if you were taught something, “you have become the victim of a very old and terrible lie” (O'Brien p. 65). There is no virtue in true war stories. In the section “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”, told by Rat Kiley, Mary Anne was the quintessence of innocence, virtue, and purity. She arrived to Vietnam, just like the men first did young and with a romanticized view of what the world really was. But like the men she would learn. Mary
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