“When we first got here–all of us–we were real young and innocent, full of romantic bullshit, but we learned pretty damn quick.” This quote was extracted from the book The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, and exemplifies the power that the war had in exploiting one’s innocence. The Vietnam war drastically altered the soldier’s American Dreams due to the great abundance of evil which was celebrated throughout the war. The novel The Things they Carried, the movie “Platoon,” as well as an actual story from a Vietnam Veteran each, in their own ways, allude to the powerful ability that the Vietnam war possessed to change a soldier’s thoughts on life.
“How to Tell a True War Story,” is an indictment of the war as an honorable pursuit but naturally far from honorable. O’Brien states that “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story ever seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made victim of a very old and terrible lie.” This rather lengthy quote is expressing to the reader how a truthful war story could never be moral, because of the unbelievable amount of grave sins that were committed by soldiers in the Vietnam war. O’Brien writes that what makes a war story untruthful is the “normal stuff,” and this is fabricated because “the normal stuff is necessary to make you believe the truly incredible craziness.” Furthermore, O’Brien says that no true war story presents a moral without introducing a greater moral.
This chapter was an important chapter in the book because it presents to the reader that the war was nonstop chaos, because that is the only way one could describe a situation in which one would have to lie to be able to say that he or she did something normal. One example of a true war story is the “Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong.”