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War in Ernest Hemingway and Tim O’Brien’s Stories

Soldier’s Home and How to Tell a True War Story are short stories written about the wars. In the Soldier’s House, Hemingway narrates the time after the First World War, and O’Brien connects the events with the Vietnam War. In a comparison of O’Brien’s description of war with Hemingway, it can be noticed that they have a lot in common. O’Brien sometimes uses postmodernism, interspersed with almost poetic fragments built on repetitions. In both analyzed works, the topic of the soldier life consequences for men and their perception of reality is raised.

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Another common element used in the stories is exaggeration. It is used to increase the expressiveness of speech, the ability to concentrate on a certain object (Meyer and Miller). For example, O’Brien uses hyperbolic expressions, even the initial phrase “This is all true” is later refuted, but attracts the reader’s attention. Another example is the reaction, when Rat does not receive an answer for his letter: “The dumb cooze never writes back” (O’Brien para. 7). In Hemingway’s story, the narrative is conducted on the third side, but the main character of the soldier is prone to exaggeration. “His lies were quite unimportant lies and consisted in attributing to himself things other men had seen, done or heard of, and stating as facts certain apocryphal incidents familiar to all soldiers” (Hemingway para. 5). They used this technique to draw attention, and emphasize contrasts – the horrors of war and ideas about it, peaceful and military life.

However, where Hemingway has the absurdity of war adjacent to triumphant masculinity, O’Brien does not have any in his memory – it also becomes absurd and carries absolutely nothing but bewilderment, pain, and destruction. Almost every stereotypical “male act” ends in shame and self-dissatisfaction. Burned after the senseless death of a comrade, a village with civilians is not at all the triumph of the winner, who showed to the enemy their own power. It is the senseless anger of a cruel child who understands that he is wrong, but does not want to restrain himself. A nose broken in a fight is not a reason for pride, but a paranoid expectation of revenge from someone to whom the nose was broken.

Works Cited

Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldier’s Home.” So Many Books, 2020. Web.

Meyer, Michael and D. Quentin Miller. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. 12th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2019.

O’Brien, Tim. “How to Tell a True War Story.” North Dakota State University, 2020. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "War in Ernest Hemingway and Tim O’Brien’s Stories." May 15, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/war-in-ernest-hemingway-and-tim-obriens-stories/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "War in Ernest Hemingway and Tim O’Brien’s Stories." May 15, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/war-in-ernest-hemingway-and-tim-obriens-stories/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'War in Ernest Hemingway and Tim O’Brien’s Stories'. 15 May.

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