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How to Tell a True War Story by Tim O'Brien and a Soldier's Home by Ernest Hemingway

Essay by   •  March 6, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  539 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,508 Views

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How To Tell a True War Story" by Tim O'Brien and "A Soldier's Home" by Ernest Hemingway, the protagonists live life and tell their stories according to how war has affected them which is demonstrated by the modifications in O'Brien's war stories and the protagonist's social isolation in Hemingway's short story

In both selections, the protagonists have been somehow traumatized by their military service. "How To Tell a True War Story" is O'Brien's personal "recollection" of his experiences during his tour of Vietnam. The short story is divided into a series of vignettes, and how they are modified to become a "true" war story. For example, in one of the anecdotes, Mitchell Sanders elaborates on a listening post that began to hear sounds of music and people coming from rocks and the surrounding nature. However, Sanders admits to O'Brien that his story has been "[exaggerated to] be more appealing," and to give "a clearer view of what the story really meant". While O'Brien admits to the fabrication of essential facts relevant his stories, he demonstrates acceptance of his post traumatic stress by being able to admit to the lies that lead to the truth and sharing them through his literature.

Hemingway's depiction of after war stress, however, differs immensely from that of O'Brien's in that his veteran, Krebs, is still recovering from the emotional toll that the war has contributed and also dislikes recollecting his military service, despite the long period of time he spent in Europe after the war had already ended. Furthermore, while O'Brien thrived on embellishing the truth, Krebs was disgusted by it, for the real truth was already unbearable. Krebs also depicts the negative impact of war emotionally by isolating himself from society. While most of the other men his age are now engaged to be married or have become career oriented, Krebs continues to live at home and maintains no social connections. His mother even offers to let him drive the car, a great luxury at the time, so that he may be able to court a woman and finally establish himself, another characteristic demonstrating his psychological hindrance. Evidently, Krebs has not been able to accept what has happened and maintains his dreary status quo.

O'Brien and Hemingway exhibit two diverse characters

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