The Hebrew word used here for "men" is "Ghever," and it is commonly associated with warfare.
When looking at these definitions, one can make out two groups of meaning: While sincerity and honesty are very subjective, correctness or accuracy are supposed to be objective by nature. One can be sincere and still not report the truth, due to the simple fact that one does not know any better.
Accuracy, however, is supposed to represent facts, bits and pieces of information that paint a picture of an event, untouched by opinion or attitude.
By trying to characterize what constitutes a true war story, but never really achieving this goal, the true irony of his short story is revealed. The incongruity between his first statement and what is actually shown in his examples does not need any explicit statements to drive home his message.
An interesting combination of recalled events and editorial commentary, the story is not set up like a traditional short story.
He, as the "expert" of war leads the reader through the story. The story is set up almost in a didactic manner: The reader is presented three different events.
Two are told by the narrator himself.
Curt Lemon steps on a booby trap and is torn to pieces by the detonation. Even though this event is told three times in three different manners, it is always the same event with a different perspective.
The second story is told by his friend Mitch Sanders. He tells the story of six soldiers on a listening post. They are supposed to detect enemy movement in the jungle and report on that.
Instead of encountering Vietnamese soldiers in the wilderness of the jungle, they seem to hear voices of a classical concert out in the distance. A third story again is told by the narrator himself.
He tells the story of four soldiers on a mission when attacked. The result of this technique is that the story is both fragmentary and cohesive: Do we always see all there is or do we as spectators to an event just put together pieces of information ourselves? Considering all these factors, it sounds ironic to claim that something is the absolute truth.
At the end of the story, however, the author presents a kind of resolution to the reader to help him or her to answer all those questions.
The narrator explains that what seems to be true is often the realest truth there is. After an event has occurred, we often can reconstruct it only through the stories told by others. Therefore the truth becomes the story because we canno have an objective view on it.
From his point of view, in a true war story it is difficult to separate the truth from what just seemed to happen. When Curt Lemon dies, Tim sees it all happen in a big confused jumble, and that is the truth of what happened. As the narrator tells us: When a booby trap explodes, you close your eyes and duck and float outside yourself.
When a guy dies, like Lemon, you look away and then look back for a moment and then look away again. There are no details to sort through; it is the confusion that is true. Mitchell Sanders makes up details of his story to make Tim feel as if he were there; that is a kind of truth-telling.
Yet, is it the real truth? Truth is what seems.In the essay, “How to Tell a True War Story,” Tim O’Brien tells several stories of war to illustrate to his readers the criteria for truth in storytelling.
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Because “How to Tell a True War Story” is told from a first-person perspective and O’Brien is an actual Vietnam veteran, a certain authenticity to this story is added. He, as the “expert” of war leads the reader through the story. One finds that “true” in war story does not mean the happening truth, but how well it relates to the appropriate emotional response, or story truth.
The ultimate example of this is the heroic story of a man throwing himself onto a grenade to save his comrades. From the era of slavery to the rise of Donald Trump, wealthy elites have relied on the loyalty of poor whites.
All Americans deserve better.
I’m just a poor white trash motherfucker.