US Studies

Daniels & Tucker
Write an essay or a creative vignette, or conduct a socratic discussion [Submit recording to
Tucker—if the recording doesn’t submit, you will have to submit another option.] in response to
one of the prompts below.
Can truth and war ever co-exist? Why is there such an issue with the telling of war
2. So, if it’s the case that 90% of this [The Things They Carried] is fiction, what are the
specific ideas O’Brien wants us to come away with? Think about the vignettes
individually and what they are there for.
3. If you were to write in this style about your life, what are the ideas you would want us to
come away with, and what is an example of a fictitious ‘true’ story you might write to
show that idea. Consider O’Brien’s explanation below:
“Now, what I have told you is, is a war story. War stories aren't always about war, per se.
They aren't about bombs and bullets and military maneuvers. They aren't about tactics,
they aren't about foxholes and canteens. War stories, like any good story, is finally about
the human heart. About the choices we make, or fail to make. The forfeitures in our lives.
Stories are to console and to inspire and to help us heal. Stories are for those late hours in
the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are.
And a good war story, in my opinion, is a story that strikes you as important, not for war
content, but for its heart content. The second reason I told you this story is that none of
it's true. Or very little of it. It's - invented. No Elroy, no Tip-Top Lodge, no pig factory,
I'm trying to think of what else. I've never been to the Rainy River in my life. Uh, not
even close to it. I haven't been within two hundred miles of the place. No boats. But,
although the story I invented, it's still true, which is what fiction is all about. Uh, if I were
to tell you the literal truth of what happened to me in the summer of nineteen sixty-eight,
all I could tell you was that I played golf, and I worried about getting drafted. But that's a
crappy story. Isn't it? It doesn't - it doesn't open any door to what I was feeling in the
summer of nineteen sixty-eight. That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when
the truth isn't sufficient for the truth. The pig factory is there for those dreams of
slaughter - they were quite real inside of me. And in my own heart, I was certainly on that
rainy river, trying to decide what to do, whether to go to the war or not go to it, say no or
say yes. The story is still true, even though on one level it's not; it's made up.”
Is the story of Linda a fitting way to end the novel? How does she relate to everything
else we have read?