The Garden of Evil
In the short, “How to tell a True War Story” from The Things they Carried (1990), author Tim O’Brien list of several ways that a reader or listener can tell if a war story is true. His insight suggests that, “you can tell a true war story if it embarrasses you”. He say’s if you send a man to war, he’ll come back talking dirty as evidenced by the letter that Rat sent to Lemon’s sister. But “in many cases a true war story cannot be believed. If you believe it, be skeptical. Often the crazy stuff is true and the normal stuff isn’t because the normal stuff is necessary to make you believe the truly incredible craziness.” Some war stories, “never seem to end”. He goes to discuss how war stories sometimes have no meaning, and if they do, they are deep and must be unraveled to understand. They cannot be extracted out it must be understood. And, “often in a true war story there is not even a point, or else the point doesn’t hit you until twenty years later… you tell the story to your wife, except when you get to the end you’ve forgotten the point again…The war’s over. You close your eyes. You smile and think, Christ, What’s the point?”
I agree to a point with what O’Brien says of true war stories. I believe that sometimes the stories are hard to pull apart and find the meaning. In war, things happen, and sometimes the recollections of the past are told with no morals or points to be made, just who was involved and what happened to them. I’ve never been to war, but my father fought in Vietnam, and he doesn’t often like to talk about the war. He says, “War is gruesome, vulgar and saddening”. Of the stories I’ve extracted from him were some about ambushed platoons, VC’s and Americans dying everywhere, and him losing friends left and right. His stories don’t always have morals; they don’t always make a point,other than how sad he was to lose good men. I’ve never been embarrassed by any of his stories so I don’t...