The Things They Carried

Truth and Fiction in The Things They Carried College

In Steven Kaplan’s essay “The Things They Carried” published in Columbia: University of South Carolina Press he says, “Almost all Vietnam War writing--fiction and nonfiction--makes clear that the only certain thing during the Vietnam War was that nothing was certain” (Kaplan 169). The manipulation of truth and fiction in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” exists in both the stories told and the characters that are described in each and is used purposely, evoking feelings of confusion and anger from the reader, but also attachment; the reader wants to figure out why O’Brien chooses to blur the line of truth and decipher what is really true and what is not. O’Brien’s style of writing in this collection of short stories is shown through the relatively constant presence of “facts” that are then followed up with statements that bring those “facts” into question. Readers can then question how real the characters and stories are, making the likely frustrated reader as this question: why play with truth and fiction and what does O’Brien accomplish through their manipulation?

From the beginning of the book O’Brien mixes fact and fiction, evident in the dedication and flyleaf of the book when O’Brien claims, "This is a work of...

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