Several legendary scholars have labored with the “truth” in one of O’Brien’s most celebrated literary works, The Things They Carried, which is an anthology of twenty-two tales on the Vietnam War, which stand alone just as powerfully as they do when bind together. Even though O’Brien is a Vietnam War expert, reluctantly drafted in 1968 and serving until 1970, he intentionally fictionalizes the war incident all through The Things They Carried, while concurrently emphasizing that the fundamental nature of the work is factual, an idea that several scholars have questioned and elicited a lot of debate in the literary community (Kaplan 48).
Joking out which knowledge O’Brien explains is true, which are legends, and which are thoughts, would be a near impracticable mission since lots of the tales are a mix of those. Somewhat, the significance of O’Brien’s literary work is his use of metafiction tale as a representative vehicle for the Vietnam War (O'Brien 78). Numerous wars that have been produced and published, mainly on the Vietnam War, and the influence of these works, significantly relies on the literary variety selected to tell them. Though several critics have remarked on O’Brien’s reinterpretation of “truth,” the need of metafiction to ascertain a reinterpretation that has to be sufficiently studied (Silbergleid 133).
As the reader tries to unravel the entwined relationship between narrative and factual, the novelist of a metafiction will remark on the writing of the piece. In the case of O’Brien, his remarks remind the reader that his tales are made-up. For instance, prior to revealing a grisly story of a soldier gradually murdering an infant water buffalo, O’Brien writes, “This one does it for me. I’ve told it before--many times, many versions--but here’s what actually happened” (Kaplan 48). By revealing that the narrative has been told in numerous ways, O’Brien is confirming that the narrative has been fictionalized. Still when he writes, “But here’s what really took place,” those reading the literature work have been cautioned that the narrative has become a creation (following being told numerous diverse ways), and readers have to keep in mind that The Things They Carried, is an imaginary tale. Whilst the phasing shows the correct story is almost to be told, “What really happened,” (Kaplan 48) is only true for The Things They Carried. This explanation establishes the literature work as a metafiction, unraveling it from other works of literature.
If readers pursue O’Brien’s regulations and rules, then each narrative presented in The Things They Carried should be constantly questioned. Even though the work is grouped as an imaginary tale, O’Brien calls on the person who reads to question the integrity of the tales, which suggests that the tales may be factual because their legality is in question. This method, which develops improbability for the reader, imitates the ambiguity of young foot soldiers that should have experienced whilst fighting in Vietnam, from political questions to individual protection. Steven Kaplan intricates on this point in his essay “The Undying Uncertainty of the Narrator in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried: “In The Things They Carried, representation comprise staging what may have occurred in Vietnam even as concurrently questioning the precision and reliability of the story act itself… the reader is allowed to experience at first hand the improbability that featured being in Vietnam” (Kaplan 48). The use of metafiction enables Tim O’Brien to unswervingly speak to the reader concerning his writing, and thus, institute inconstancies between truth and imaginary tale (Silbergleid 133).
Though war narratives can be told wrongly, O’Brien also expresses to his readers that the narratives are indispensable. The subject of “The Lives of the Dead” is speedily acknowledged; the first line reads, “But this is true too: stories can save us” (Silbergleid 133). After O’Brien studies the possible demolition of literature (with Bowker as a case), he emphasizes upon the existing value of literature. For O’Brien, tales can create events occur over again, can forth to life ones we’ve lost. He explains, “The thing concerning a tale is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way remembrance, thoughts and language merge to make spirits in the head” (Kaplan 48). The Things They Carried, then, brings back to life for O’Brien lives, which include Norman Bowker and Bowker’s best friend Kiowa.
On the other hand, the reading Epic of Gilgamesh and Liad which is a perfect work of translation of Sumerian and other contemporary languages, shows how much work has been distorted. The translation, which is believed to be undertaken between 1300 and 1000 BC, has some passages been deleted, and some sections of the work mutilated. In the epic, there are several repeated phrases that serve to create rhythms in the poem (Kaplan 48).
In terms of style and use, the epic is multifaceted: it is exoteric, anticipated for the people in the story form of fable, which can transform through minor differences and additions and lends itself to continuous interpretations; mysterious, involving, i.e., earthly references and deep spiritual imagery, as well as the journeys and tribulations of Gilgamesh in his pursuit for immortality; fame, as a record of the accomplishments of Gilgamesh and Eabani (Silbergleid 133). This record was necessary, particularly for potential ages, for Gilgamesh and Eabani were potential tools of the Spirit, and of Marduk-Micha-el, for the creation of the external culture of the third post-Atlantean age. The people at that time believed that the exchange of skills and experts by the two resulted to Chaldean-Babylonian culture. However, this was not true since the interaction between the two leaders had nothing to contribute to war or culture. In the literature, Gilgamesh is depicted as immoral and he cannot represent his people to their god, yet he was immoral, which makes him unfit for the prayers (Kaplan 48).
One of the most excellent instances of this statement is O’Brien’s difference between “happening-truth” and “story-truth,” which he has explained in a good number of forums and debates from his novels to interviews (O'Brien 78). For O’Brien, the happening-truth emanates from real facts. Though the happening-truth does not overstate or fake the narrative, a reader might not achieve a better understanding of an occasion. Happening-truths are given to readers in books, and comparable to texts, they are able to be attempt and fail to raise feelings. Robin Silbergleid, biographer of “Making Things Present: Tim O’Brien’s Autobiographical Metafiction,” argues, “In this way, “happening truth” remains historically and emotionally distant” (Silbergleid 133). Equally, story-truth occurs when a novelist does overstress (and eventually fake) a narrative as a forfeit to eliciting emotions. If the tale is not precisely factual, at least the readers appreciate the implication of the incident. Silbergleid comments tale truth, “is full of agonizing feature and specificity” (Silbergleid 133). O’Brien employs story-truth to reconstruct Vietnam for strangers.
In conclusion, from Epic of Gilgamesh and Liad by Tim O’Brien’s, it is clear that continuous use of metafiction for The Things They Carried, is fairly unbeaten on a good number of levels. By calling into question the fact of his narratives, he disorients readers who are expectant to understand the typical literature, where the occurrences are unquestionably false (O'Brien 78). He also demonstrates to readers why recreating a narrative might be more significant than narrating the story just as it is memorized.