O’Brien “The Things They Carried”, answer questions

There needs to be written answers to the following questions as journals. They can be written as small paragraphs or bigger paragraphs.

“How to Tell a True War Story”

List the narrator’s comments about what constitutes a true war story. What do you think these competing and contradictory ideas finally add up to?


In this chapter, O’Brien says that he keeps writing war stories because he did kill someone in Vietnam. In what ways is the title “Ambush” significant?

“Speaking of Courage” and“Notes”

What is the effect of “notes,” in which O’Brien explains the story behind “Speaking of Courage”? Does your appreciation of the story change when you learn which parts are “true” and which are the author’s invention?

“In the Field”

O’Brien writes, “When a man died, there had to be blame.” What does this mandate do to the men of O’Brien’s company? Are they justified in thinking themselves at fault? How do they cope with their own feelings of culpability?

“The Lives of the Dead”

On the copyright page of one edition of the novel appears the following: “This is a work of fiction. Except for a few details regarding the author’s own life, all the incidents, names and characters are imaginary.” How does this statement affect your reading of the novel?

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