Study Guide

The Things They Carried Good Form

By Tim O'Brien

Good Form

  • Okay, listen up, because Tim O'Brien is about to make your brain explode again.
  • He tells us that while he is forty-three, and a writer, and was a foot soldier in Vietnam... everything else in the book is made up.
  • The young man he killed on the trail outside My Khe? Made up. O'Brien didn't kill him. He was just there.
  • Except that even that is made up.
  • O'Brien says that story-truth, or how something felt, is sometimes truer than what actually happened, or happening-truth.
  • The happening-truth is that there were a lot of bodies, and O'Brien never looked at them. And now, with stories, he's giving those bodies faces. He's making himself feel again.
  • So when Kathleen asks him if he's killed anybody, he can truthfully say that he has, and truthfully say that he has not.