War Sanders, the Alpha Company’s resident storyteller, whose

War is an intense concept, which often leave soldiers bearing situations on their minds for long periods of time.  These men also get fatigued and don’t know what to do with themselves when they’re not fighting.  They need a source of enlightenment.  In the book, “The Things They Carried,” the idea that storytelling holds many different powers, whether it’s demonstrated through how soldiers coped with war and got things off their chest.War stories in general are possibly what helps a soldier get through war.  The stories keep their mind off of the war itself to focus on other things.  O’Brien believes the stories contain immense power, since they allow the tellers and listeners to confront the past together and share unknowable experiences.  This also creates a bond between soldiers that later, might just help them. Telling stories returns to the focus of the narrative again and again. Mitchell Sanders, the Alpha Company’s resident storyteller, whose narratives range from the imaginary (the story of six men who hear voices in the jungle) to specific (the story of how Rat Kiley shoots himself in the foot and as a result is allowed to leave Vietnam), argues that truth and morality in a war story have little to do with accuracy.  It’s more of a source of entertainment.  O’Brien with stories is very complicated…it’s like, “the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget…The memory-traffic feeds into a rotary up on your head, where it goes in circles for a while, then pretty soon imagination flows in…that’s the real obsession.  All those stories.  Not bloody stories, necessarily.  Happy stories, too, and even a few peace stories.” (35).  He doesn’t seem to realize he’s releasing what’s been inside him.  It’s almost as if it’s a habit of some sort that he can’t control…mental therapy that he doesn’t even know about.  Sharing experiences is the main problem of a soldier.  Either some want to hear the stories, while others don’t.  Storytelling is a valuable way of sharing your experiences with other soldiers, while getting unspeakable things off your chest.  A man like Norman Bowker, for example, never wanted to hear war stories…but always had something, deep down, that he needed to get off his chest, but never knew when the right time was.  Bowker wrote a seventeen-page, hand written letter to O’Brien, about how his life is meaningless after war.  Bowker had been carrying around Kiowa’s death for years, with no one to share it to.  Kiowa was sinking in a field full of shit, with Bowker clinging onto his boot for dear life.  Bowker felt himself sinking, and chose his life over Kiowa’s.  He tells O’Brien, he wanted to write a war story about it, but just couldn’t find the right words to put the tragedy into context.  O’Brien recalls how Bowker’s letter “hit me hard…I never spoke about the war, certainly not in detail, and yet ever since my return I had been talking about it virtually non stop through my writings.  Telling stories seemed a natural, inevitable process…partly catharsis, partly communication, it was a way of grabbing people by the shirt and explaining exactly what happened to me.” (157-158).  Although Kiowa’s death is consecutively brought up by Bowker, the bigger picture is more about O’Brien’s own search for authenticity in storytelling than about the death itself.   His explanation that most of his writing comes from the “simple need to talk” illustrates that his writing is his chosen form of relief from mental anguish. As such, his success in dealing with his mental agony is directly related to his success as a storyteller.In the chapter “The Lives Of The Dead,” O’Brien brings up a story about his first love.  Now love is a strong, misused word, but for O’Brien…it was different.  It was a girl named Linda from his fourth grade class.  Unfortunately for O’Brien, she had a brain tumor and passed away at a very young age. Linda seems to represent elements of the past that can be brought back through imagination and storytelling.  Even though Linda was only nine years old when she passed, O’Brien shows how much he loved her through story-telling.   When he writes about Linda, he brings her back.  Linda is a coping mechanism: “In a story I can steal her soul.  I can revive, at least briefly, that which is absolute and unchanging.  In a story, miracles can happen.  Linda can smile and sit up.  She can reach out, touch my wrist, and say, ‘Timmy, stop crying'” (236).  His retreat into his daydreams, especially after her funeral, provides him unexpected relief and rationalization. Linda’s presence in the story makes O’Brien’s earlier stories about Vietnam more comprehensive. The experience he had as a child illuminates the way he deals with death in Vietnam and post-war; it also explains why he has turned to stories to deal with life’s difficulties.  The dead will always live on, as long as their legacy is carried through memories. When dealing with war, men must find a way to cope.  Telling stories is a way of comfort for them that not only entertains other men, but reimburses themselves.  To the extent of this novel, storytelling healing powers seem to only affect the author.  However, in the scope of humanity, storytelling allows us to overcome barriers that we couldn’t conquer otherwise.