13 April 2007
Truth vs. Lies in the Novel “The Things They Carried”
Tim O’Brien, the author of the novel, has a unique writing style. His writing style
is descriptive and he uses words that provoke thought. Because of this, O’Brien’s style of
writing makes the reader question the idea of truth vs. lies.
In his stories, Tim plays with the idea of truth. What is it and how can it be
defined? He actually has been playing with truth since he was a young boy, whishing his
girlfriend back to live, even though she died from a brain tumor at the young age of nine.
Even though she has passed, he realizes that if you have enough imagination and drive,
that one can even bring back the dead in stories. It doesn’t matter whether the stories are
exactly true. You can change aspects of the stories such as the name, the location, or even
parts of what really happened. A passage from the chapter
The Lives of the Dead
this clearly. "And as a writer now, I want to save Linda's life. Not her body--her life."
(236) He knows that since he knew her when she was alive, then she is never dead, she is
alive and well in his heart, and from there, he can write, which is keeping her alive even
more. Even though these things are changed, the feeling of truth will still be there. In the
same chapter there is another quote that explains this very well. It states: "Once you're
alive, you can't ever be dead." (244) This is another direct quote that reinforces that if you
are a writer then you can keep someone alive, even if they are dead. A writer can lie, and
make a person seem alive, even though they have been dead for thirty-five years.
One of the most compelling qualities of
The Things They Carried
is a mixture of
truth and fiction, the feeling that even if these stories were made up they are absolutely
true. In a chapter entitled “Notes,” the narrator explains that the original story had been
inspired by a long, wandering letter from one of the members of his platoon who wanted
O’Brien to tell his story.