The Things They Carried

O’Brien explains that he can change all the details in his story, such as the names, places, and events, because they are irrelevant in relaying the truth. What kind of truth is O’Brien trying to communicate if not actual fact?

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O'Brien feels that fiction based on truth is more authentic than the actual truth. The art of writing fiction can engage the reader in a way that non-fiction cannot. I think his epigraph is meant to challenge the reader. Do we accept his version of the war because he was a soldier? Do we doubt him because he was a soldier? Many American children still believe that America won the Vietnam War because of movies like Rambo or other myths created in Hollywood. I think O'Brien is challenging the reader to decipher both the mythos of was and its reality.