The Uncertainty of Truth: The Importance of Fake and Fact

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What is truth? The age old question that many have been asking over and over again, from the time of Aristotle, to today with Cornel West. For some, truth is found in religion. To others, truth is found in self. Some spend their lifetimes seeking genuine truth. Others do not give it a second thought. In Tim O’Brien’s, The Things They Carried, the truth is explored through a series of personal encounters, with fabrication and fact tightly intertwined. For O’Brien, truth has the traits of being experiential, perceptive, and contradictory.

Personally in my own life, I find the topic of truth to be one that is extremely interesting. The truth subjective, but has the ability to hold a tremendous amount of weight. For many, it holds everything. Yet, one fact of truth can shake the entire entity of what one person can hold to be their one and only truth. Relating back to my example of religion, there are millions who base their whole life on the fact that they believe it all to be their own truth. But if one thing could break it, then in turn, their whole life is broken.

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The Things They Carried is a novel about a group of solders fighting in the Vietnam war and their experiences throughout it. I chose to write about this short story collection, wrote about Tim O’Brien because it is one of my favorite books, and when I was assigned to read it in high school, the heaviness of truth presented in the book flew over my head. Re-reading the novel and writing my final paper on this was a good choice. Also, my grandfatther fought in the Vietnam War, and although it is a work of fiction, I was able to relate it to him, and understand further about where he truly came from.

By focusing on the truth, the novel reveals the importance of experience through telling stories. At first glance, the concepts of truth and storytelling may seem to be opposing, but that is not the case. Storytelling makes it possible for a listener to feel genuine compassion and empathy, making another person’s experience seem like his own. The feelings and emotions of a character become personal for the reader. O’Brien explains” the difference between “happening-truth” and “story-truth” (171). He explains that while happening-truth is situationally accurate, story-truth allows the reader to experience the same feelings which he had felt. He gives an example when he describes what he saw on the battle field:

His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other eye was a star-shaped hole, his eyebrows were thin and arched like a woman’s, his nose was undamaged,

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