Expository+Writing+Lecture+on+O_Brien - Expository Writing...

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Expository Writing 101, Section LH Instructor Sarah Goldfarb Lecture on Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story” The Redefinition of Social Truth First, ask yourself: does O’Brien really believe this, or is this the narrator’s voice?, on pgs.440- 441. So the “voice” of this story is the narrator, not Tim O’Brien himself – “A true war story is never moral…If a story seems moral, do not believe it.” Does this story have a moral, at the end? How do we know what to believe in, as the essence of this story – is it morality, or something else? “There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue.” What seems “real” or authentic or believable in this story? And why? How does O’Brien make you feel what is real about this story, amidst all the unreliability of the narrator? “He’s nineteen years old – it’s too much for him – so he looks at you…” – 441 On pg. 441 – “It’s all exactly true” – but the narrator will contradict this later. On pg. 442 – Ask yourself, how can we believe in morality if what really happened, if what people “really” did, is unclear? “In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen.” We find out that this war story is not factually true – but is it inherently true? Maybe the “facts” of what happened are not actually relevant…so what *would* make a war story true? What new definition of truth is O’Brien trying to come up with? The narrator invokes more contradiction: he says you can’t tell a true war story - “Sometimes it’s
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Expository+Writing+Lecture+on+O_Brien - Expository Writing...

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