The Things They Carried Rhetorical Analysis Essay In The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, O’Brien uses many short stories to describe his experience in Vietnam. The story that captured many aspects of writing was “How to Tell a True War Story” because it acts as a guide to writing a true story. O’Brien uses many different rhetorical strategies, narrative techniques, and establishes a theme in this story to help develop his characters and story line.
Tim O’Brien uses several rhetorical strategies in this story. A strategy that is easily found in the story is imagery. He uses a lot of sensory details to help the reader know what it feels like in a certain situation. “Except for the laughter things were quiet,” (67) and “You hear stuff nobody should ever hear,” (69) are some quotes that describes the sounds the soldiers are hearing. O’Brien uses sight as a big component for setting up the setting and describing what the soldiers saw. “A handsome kid, really.
Sharp grey eyes, lean and narrow-waisted…”(67), “A deep pinkish red spilled out on the river, which moved with no sound…(68). Another rhetorical strategy that O’Brien uses is motif. The motif that he uses is “…true war story…” He uses this phrase throughout the story to help the reader understand how to write a story. “A true war story is never moral. ”(65). This quote is basically saying that a true war story tells it how it is; it doesn’t try to make things easier for the reader to digest. “You can tell a true war story if it embarrasses you. (65) This quote is saying if you don’t want the offensive words or phrases then you don’t want the truth of the story. “In many cases a true war story cannot be believed. ”(68) The last strategy that O’Brien uses in this story is irony. There are many places in this story when O’Brien’s ideas contradict themselves. When Curt Lemon dies, O’Brien describes it as beautiful. “…when he died it was almost beautiful, the way the sunlight came around him and lifted him up…” (67) Most people wouldn’t associate death with beauty, especially the way the Curt Lemon died.
Another place where he displays irony is in the beginning of the story he says that Curt Lemon died when he was playing a game with Rat Kiley but later on, after he’s given some advice on how to write a true war story, he tells the reader how Curt Lemon actually died. This is ironic because he is giving advice on how to write a story but he didn’t take his own advice. The last place of irony is when O’Brien says that this story was actually a love story. When most people think of death and war they think of sadness and tragedy.
And these war stories, according to O’Brien, were love stories. Tim O’Brien uses two narrative techniques in “How to Tell a True War Story”. First he splits the story into three different sections. The first part being Rat Kiley writing his letter to Curt Lemon’s sister about the relationship they had. The next section is describing the correct way of writing a “true war story”. And the last is O’Brien looking back on stories and his story telling techniques. O’Brien separates the story into three different parts to give the reader an example of a story that is “true”.
The next section would about the truth about writing a true story and the last section is his personal reflection on the whole situation. The other narrative technique is that O’Brien retells certain events. He retells how Curt Lemon died, he retells Mitchell Sanders telling a story, and he retells how women react when you tell them stories about the war. Tim O’Brien retells stories and events to make his own story more believable. O’Brien gives the main character his own name and naming all of the other soldiers which makes it difficult to label the book as fact or fiction.
The theme of “How to Tell a True War Story” is that everything is not what it seems. The truth is often ugly. When most people want to tell a story about war they will try to sugar coat it so the reader or listener will understand it better. But to truly understand something you need to get the full aspect of it. O’Brien gives many ideas as to ways to tell whether a story is true but most people don’t want to hear it or even understand. That is why some storytellers don’t tell the whole truth when writing, to make their work more appealing.
The real purpose of stories is to relate the truth of experience, not to create false emotions in their audiences. “How to Tell a True War Story” has aspects that help the story become more connect. O’Brien uses many rhetorical strategies like irony, imagery, and motifs that get the reader thinking. Imagery helps develop the setting and the characters. Motifs helped tie the whole story together, and irony brings an unexpected twist to the story. He also retells events and splits the story into three sections. And he reveals the overall theme of the story which is the truth may be ugly but it needs to be known.