The short story “How to Tell a True War Story” by Tim O’Brien is structured around the experiences of soldiers in the Vietnam War. The narrator describes stories that have happened “twenty years ago” (p. 2, l. 22), so all of the events are flashbacks into the past. 

The narrative is fragmented and split into fifteen parts which tend to follow a specific pattern. For example, the beginning of the text introduces a story about Bob Kiley’s touching letter to Curt Lemon’s sister:

Anyway, it’s a terrific letter, very personal and touching. Rat almost bawls writing it. He gets all teary telling about the good times they had together, how her brother made the war seem almost fun, always raising hell and lighting up villes and bringing smoke to bear every which way. (p. 1, ll. 1-10)

The story is ...

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