Essay, Pages 4 (873 words)
Novelist Tim O’Brian once said “A lie, sometimes, can be truer than the truth, which is why fiction gets written. ” In his novel The Things They Carried, O’Brian argues that “story-truth is sometimes truer than happening-truth” (171). O’Brian opposes the idea of absolute truth, and believes that all truths are subject to change. He believes that a fictional story can be more true than an actual event. However, a story, no matter what story, cannot be more true than an actual event; a “story version” of an event is merely a shadow of that event—a make-up-caked, dramatized, Hollywood shadow.
It is impossible for “story-truth” to be truer than “happening-truth. ” In The Things They Carried O’Brian creates a daughter, Kathleen, for the fictional version of himself. O’Brian, however, does not have a daughter in real life. While it may be a “story-truth” that Tim O’Brian had a daughter, it will never be a “happening-truth. ” A made-up daughter will never be more real than O’Brian’s actual son.
In the novel, O’Brian “return[s] with [his] daughter to Vietnam” where he buries a belonging of a fellow soldier (173).
This story can never be more true than an actual event solely because of the involvement of a fictional character. A man can tell a story about his last trip to the grocery store, and most people would count it as true. However, if the man told a story about going to the grocery store with a magic genie, it would be assumed that he is lying, even if every other facet of his story was believable.
This is no different than O’Brian weaving a fictional character in to his novel. The “story-truth” of Kathleen can never be more true than “happening-truth.
” Furthermore, in a crime investigation, it is illegal to interfere with evidence involved with a case. Any disruption or corruption of evidence is termed “falsifying evidence. ” This is a serious offence because it could seriously disturb the process of solving a crime. Devoid of sound evidence, it is difficult to determine how a crime was committed. Evidence is an example of “happening-truth;” it conveys without any bias, exactly what happened at the scene of a crime, or at the events leading up to a crime.
Investigators cannot solve a crime based solely off of “story-truth,” such as the testimonies of witnesses, because of the numerous individual accounts of a crime which are subject to dishonesty, human error, and prejudice. Therefore, investigators rely on “happening-truth” because it is trustworthy, whereas “story-truth” is inconsistent. Moreover, the popular film The Titanic is bursting with examples of “happening-truth” and “story-truth. ” Director, James Cameron, designed many of these “story-truths” to provide an increased dramatic tone in the film.
He created a grand staircase on the ship while in reality this staircase was so small passengers had to go up and down single file. A Pablo Picasso painting is featured in the film, although Picasso was not popular during the time of the Titanic, and his work was not widely distributed. The diamond necklace in the film, titled “The Heart of the Ocean,” never existed, much like the love story between invented passengers Rose Bukater and James Dawson. These creations served Cameron’s purpose to paint a theatrical telling of the event, but the movie was just that—theatrical.
Although these “story-truths” indicate the sinking of the Titanic was a romantic event, it is the “happening-truths” that send chills through the viewers’ astonished bodies. The most powerful aspect of the film The Titanic is not the love story. It is not the grand staircase, or the luxurious dining room. It is not the interaction between characters, or the extravagant “Heart of the Ocean. ” The most powerful aspect of The Titanic is that it actually happened. At the end of the film, there were 1,502 dead bodies sinking and in the freezing salt water of the Atlantic.
No “story-truth,” no matter how elaborate, could create a greater tragedy than a “happening-truth. ” Why not? Since “story-truths” are not as true as “happening-truths. ” Therefore, the notion that a story could ring truer than an actual event is in the wrong. A lie cannot reveal a deeper truth; only truth can uncover truth. Stories provide an escape for the imagination. They allow the reader to imagine a different reality and to glimpse into an alternate world. However, stories are only stories. They are not real. The only way the reader can understand a true reality is to read a true account of that reality.
Although this account may be less dramatic than the “story version” of the reality, it is in fact the reality. It is the truest truth; the “happening-truth. ” Works Cited O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Print. “Tim O’Brien Quotes. ” Tim O’Brien Quotes (Author of The Things They Carried). N. p. , n. d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013. . “Titanic Facts vs. Titanic Fiction. ” HubPages. N. p. , n. d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013. . “The Titanic Gazette: R. M. S. TITANIC vs. Titanic Movie. ” The Titanic Gazette: R. M. S. TITANIC vs. Titanic Movie. N. p. , n. d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.