In the book, “The Things They Carried,” Tim O’Brien uses fiction to convey a very real event. A story within this book titled “How to Write a True War Story” tells us that a true war story is more a depiction of emotions rather than any actual event. To make us, the civilians, the ones outside war understand he has to do this in my opinion. When we read something knowing it is non-fiction, that the events described are actual depictions, we come into it from an angle different than if we were to come into it thinking it were fiction. By distilling within us the bias that what we are reading is fiction, O’Brien manages to create a surreal effect. Some would argue that this would make it more impacting, I would agree with those that say it would make it less. But my belief is that was his intent. Perhaps when you’re in war you do have about you a sense of non-reality, that what you are experiencing can’t really have happened.

Now, this is not entirely true however, for O’Brien also manages to remind us at several points in time through the use of his fictional daughter Katherine just how naïve we as a populace are and were of the situation in Vietnam. Throughout the book he is constantly telling and retelling stories, from first one angle, then another, and yet again he manages to tell it from another. He isn’t trying to convey the actual event itself, but the affect the event had had on him. We who have not experienced war could never fully grasp the situations he describes, but he feels an overwhelming urge to convey it to us. Not the situation itself, but the emotions and impact the situation would have had. It may seem rather contradictory that he is trying to pull us into the war while still reminding us that we are outsiders, however, he couldn’t have accomplished what he was trying without doing such.