“The Things They Carried”, a novel written by Tim O’Brien, tells a riveting tale of horror and destruction of his service in Vietnam. However, the stress of the war blurs the fine line between reality and nightmare, and the two become one horrendous experience. Consequently, most of what remains of his experience are the lingering feelings and cloudy memories, and O’Brien admits “in any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen”. Nonetheless, O’Brien tells his story because he believes emotional truth surpasses factual accuracy in story telling.
O’Brien admits to omitting and exaggerating certain details, however the technical facts surrounding any individual event are less important than the subjective truth of what the war meant to soldiers and how it changed them. O’Brien believed “the thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you” (128), yet the truth of Vietnam is often so ugly compared to the ideas of glory and heroism associated with war and as a result, people do not benefit as much from the true war stories. Therefore, O’Brien continues to tell slightly embellished stories because the actual information is not as vital as the emotional appeal it provides people.
O’Brien’s aim in blending fact and fiction is to make the point that the objective truth of a war story is less relevant than the act of telling a story. Storytelling may have the fake events and the false information, but the important part is how a person came away from the story. In “Notes”, O’Brien states “by telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened, like the night in the field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless...