In the short story “How to Tell a True War Story” by Tim O’Brien, the narrator begins by telling about Bob Kiley, a comrade of his from Vietnam. When Kiley’s best friend, Curt Lemon, is killed, Kiley writes a letter to Lemon’s sister and tells her about her brother’s courage, military skills, and lively personality. Kiley puts his soul into the letter and is offended when the sister never writes back. The narrator claims that a real war story is never uplifting and noble, but filled with obscenities and bad things.
The narrator then talks about Curt Lemon and about how he died. One day, along a trail junction, Kiley and Lemon were playing with smoke grenades, and Lemon was killed after accidentally stepping on a mine.
The narrator claims that it is difficult to tell the difference between appearance and reality in war stories. People who witness the events tend to confuse their memories of what happened with what seemed to happen, so it is difficult to tell an exact war story.
The narrator then claims t...