Jon Krakauer’s Into The Wild And Tim O’brien’s How To Tell War Story

1800 words - 7 pages

People try to understand the world through perception of experiences that they encounter. These encounters include either living through the experience first hand or the experience being conveyed by another person. Our perception weeds out main ideas from those experiences deeming them realistic and if so labels them truths. However, our perception of the obtained truth from those experiences is not always credible because as a recipient we are restricted to the amount of experience we can retain. Meaning the perceptions of the labeled truths is a result of our translation of incomplete experiences into new perception resulting from what he or she could retain from the original experience. Those incomplete experiences give rise to new truths, shown in the study of Chris McCandless journey to Alaska, from Jon Krakauer’s “Selections from Into the Wild”. Many argued the motives behind McCandless’ escape from society because readers translated McCandless’ experiences differently due to his journal lacking all of his experiences. Those experiences translated formed a variety of truths but they didn’t convince Krakauer, so he hiked the very mountains McCandless hiked in an attempt to retain the same experiences as McCandless. Krakauer was unsuccessful but during his journey he retained different experiences, and causing him to translate them into new truths. However, those variety of truths all connect to a main idea that allows them to be truths, this is explained in Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell War Story”. O’Brien observed while trying to retell his war stories that alterations appeared when he was retelling it, but found this doesn’t make the altered stories false because they retained the same basis or idea from the unaltered experience causing them to be truths. Truth, in essence, is constantly being translated from limited experiences in an effort to convey a similar idea as the original experience so recipients can partially experience that experience believable. Due our limitations as recipients, which cause truth to vary among us, discovering truth becomes impossible because of its constant changes.

When we encounter experiences through person-to-person, alterations occur at times on purpose by the conveyor on the experience so the translation by the recipient can result in the closest experience to the experience retained by the conveyor. These changes highlight the retained ideas in the experience, allowing it to remain a truth, O’Brien explains, “when you go to tell about it, there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed”(O’Brien 442). As a recipient of an experience one is bound by only the translation of the experience one can retain, so when the conveyor tells his or her experience/story. The conveyor emphasizes the experience retained causing the alterations in the experience but this allows the recipient to translate a truth similar to the...

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