What’s Hidden Behind Storytelling?

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The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a book of fiction whose main character, Tim O’Brien, focuses on stories and the powers they possess. O’Brien believes that stories have a power to preserve people and memories, especially when told with heart-truth opposed to happening-truth. A few stories in particular that declare this power are “How to Tell a True War Story”, “Speaking of Courage”, and “Notes”, and “Lives of the Dead”. Throughout the book O’Brien’s war stories help portray this idea of storytelling and their power to save people. Tim O’Brien prefers to tell stories with heart-truth rather than happening-truth because the first quality makes stories more convincing with the use of indirect connotations. The point of a war story is not to deliver true facts exactly as they happen but rather to use facts and details in order to express a precise description of the feelings behind a situation, conveying the emotional truth. This gives a reason to believe that the story happened and sets a more realistic tone. Like any war story, “but especially a true one, it's difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen...The angles of vision are skewed” (p 67). O’Brien’s narrative shows that the storyteller has the power to influence his or her listener’s opinions. Much like the way war distorts a soldier’s perceptions of right and wrong, O’Brien’s story warps readers’ perceptions of ugliness and beauty. He writes these fictional stories in order to engage readers and put them into an empathetic mindset bringing them closer to the characters. The significance of a story “comes down to gut instinct. A true war story, if truly told, makes the stomach believe” (74). Although heart-truth may be concealed within, O’Brien is able to uncover his inner emotions through his methods of storytelling. By inventing stories and situations O’Brien is able to keep his

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