“A pigeon,” Azar whispered. “Roast pigeon on a spit. I smell it sizzling.”
“Except this isn’t for real”
Azar shrugged. After a second he reached out and clapped me on the shoulder, not roughly but not gently either. “What’s real?” he said. “Eight months in fantasyland, it tends to blur the line. Honest to God, I sometimes can’t remember what real is.“
This quote in particular caught my attention, especially after reading the interview with Author Tim O’Brien and doing some other research on him. It seems to reflect the entire book; the blur between what is real and what is not real.
Tim O’Brien asserts many times that The Things They Carried is a work of fiction, and in the interviews with him he gives examples of elements that he made up for the book. He was and is an extremely self aware author. I see this part of the book as being very carefully put here, to remind the reader of a possible reason why Tim O’Brien did not just write an autobiographical or historical book of what happened in Vietnam. He wrote the book as a work of fiction, to reflect the war itself; the line between what was real and what wasn’t real was severely blurred. Writing a book in which fact and fiction are blurred in the same manner accurately portraits for the reader what it felt like to be in the war.
Also, Character Tim O’Brien feels shut out from the other members of Alpha Company in “The Ghost Soldiers.” He talks about his rage for Jorgenson and how he is not just mad at him for mismanaging his medical treatment, but is mad at him for making Tim stop feeling angry, and it is implied Tim is angry at him for taking his place at Alpha Company. This drama, put right next to a section overtly implying that there are parts of this book that are purely fiction, makes me wonder if this story was based on true events or not, and if these emotions were really had by Tim O’Brien or not.