Narrator and point of view


The events described in the short story “How to Tell a True War Story” by Tim O’Brien are told by a first-person narrator. It is important to keep in mind that the narrator’s character is semi-autobiographical and inspired by the author’s experiences in the Vietnam War

The first-person narration attracts readers from the beginning, when the narrator promises that “this is true” (p. 1, l. 1) and “all exactly true” (p. 2, l. 21). Later on, however, the narrator confesses that he has told people several versions of the same story: “I’ve told it before—many times, many versions—but here’s what actually happened” (p. 6, ll. 16-17). Therefore, readers might begin to question his reliability as a storyteller. When he tells the story of Lemon’s death, he once describes it as “almost beautiful” (p. 2, l. 35) and another time as “horrible” (p. 8, l....

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