TTTC Friends & How to Tell a True War Story
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Who is the chapter “Friends” about?
Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk
What did Dave and Lee learn to do?
Trust each other
What pact did Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk make?
If one of them gets wounded so badly that they’d have to be in a wheel chair, then the other one would kill him so he won’t have too.
Which of the two stepped on a rigged mortar round?
What happened to him?
The mortar took of his right leg from the knee down
What did Lee keep saying?
When Dave Jensen got to him, what did Lee Strunk say to him?
“Jesus, man, don’t kill me.” (Lee thought maybe they could fix his leg.)
What did Lee make Dave do?
Swear he wouldn’t kill him.
Did Lee Strunk survive?
No, he ended up dying somewhere over Chu Lai.
How did Dave Jensen feel when he learned Lee died?
He seemed relieved of an enormous weight.
What was Rat Kiley’s real name?
Who were best friends in “How to Tell a True War Story”?
Rat Kiley and Curt Lemon
What did Curt Lemon do on Halloween?
painted his body in different colors, wear a mask, and go trick-or treating
Who does Rat write a letter to about Curt Lemon’s death?
Curt Lemon’s sister
How does Rat describe Curt?
Nutso, but he loves him anyway. He says they were like twins, soulmates.
What does Rat call Curt’s sister since she did NOT write back to him?
What does Tim O’Brien say about war stories?
There is never a moral, it is never uplifting.
How can you tell a true war story?
If it is obscene and evil, it embarrasses you, it never ends, it is hard to believe, it doesn’t have a point
How old was Rat Kiley?
What were Rat and Curt doing before Curt died?
They were playing catch with a smoke grenade and laughing
If you chickened out of catching the smoke grenade, what were you called?
a yellow mother
What noise did Tim O’Brien hear that made him look at Lemon?
Lemon stepping on a detonator
What did Curt Lemon do just before he died?
He stepped from the shade into bright sunlight and his face was suddenly brown and shining.
What did Curt Lemon step on that made him die?
a booby-trapped 105 round
What else do we know about a war story?
It’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen. When Tim O’Brien tries to describe Curt Lemon’s death, he didn’t actually see the whole thing because he looks away and then back again, so he tells what seemed to happen
In a war story, what is usually true?
the crazy stuff
What does Mitchell Sanders like to play with?
Who told the war story of the six-man patrol that was on a “listening-post” operation in the mountains?
What do you do on a listening post?
You just listen for enemy movement and radio in for guns if you hear anything suspicious. Otherwise, there should be absolute silence. You are all ears and no tongue. They should be invisible.
How does Mitchell describe the mountain the 6-man patrol is on?
spooky, always foggy and wet
What did the six-man patrol think they were hearing?
Gook music, chimes, xylophones, chamber music
Why doesn’t the patrol call the information in?
Because you can’t kill someone for playing music
As Mitchell is telling the story, what does he keep doing.
Pauses, stops telling the story and plays with his yo-yo.
At one point, Mitchell tells Tim he won’t believe the story. Why doesn’t Mitchell think he won’t believe it.
Because it really happened.
What did Mitchell really want from Tim?
He wanted Tim to feel the truth, to believe by the raw force of feeling.
Where is the music coming from?
The rock, the grass, the monkeys, from everywhere. Soon they can’t take it any more and they finally call it in on the radio and report enemy movement.
What happens next?
They blow up everything will all the fire power they have.
The next morning when they get back to base camp, what do they do?
They don’t say a word and then salute the colonel and leave because certain stories you don’t tell.
What’s the moral to Mitchell Sanders story?
What did Mitchell confess to Tim the next morning?
He made up a lot of the story.
How did Tim know Mitchell’s story was not a true war story?
Because there was a moral to the story. In a true war story, there is no moral.
What helps you figure out if you’ve heard a true war story?
Gut instinct. And usually you have nothing to say but, “Oh” after it.
True stories DO NOT GENERALIZE
After Lemon died, the troop headed out, what did they run across?
a baby water buffalo
What did Rat Kiley try to feed it?
pork & beans
Rat Kiley just lost his best friend, what did he do to the water buffalo?
He kept shooting it to hurt it, not to kill it, because he wanted the water buffalo to feel pain
What did they do with the water buffalo when Kiley was done hurting it?
dumped it down a well
What does Mitchel Sanders say about Vietnam?
It’s the Garden of Evil
War can war be?
Contradictory, it’s gross, but beautiful; horrible but majestic; almost everything is true, almost nothing is true
What is war another name for?
What was Mitchell Sanders right about?
War has a spiritual feel – of a great ghostly fog. There is no clarity
What true story wakes Tim O’Brien up at night?
When Lemon steps on the booby trap that blew him up.
What was Dave Jensen singing as he took down pieces of Curt Lemon’s body from the tree?
What do older women who hear war stories always tell the soldiers that Tom O’Brien hates?
He should put it all behind him and find new stories to tell.
Is a war story a LOVE story?
YES. A true war story is not about war.
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