"The Man I killed," "Ambush.," & "Good Form" Journal



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"The Man I Killed," "Ambush.," & "Good Form" Journal




  1. When Tim O'Brien introduces the subject of "The Man I Killed," he does it with the following description. Why does he start here? Why use these details? "His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other eye was a star-shaped hole, his eyebrows were thin and arched like a woman's, his nose was undamaged, there was a slight tear at the lobe of one ear, his clean black hair was swept upward into a cowlick at the rear of the skull….”




  1. "The Man I Killed" describes fairly intimate aspects of the dead man's life? Where do these details come from? How can Tim O'Brien know them? What is going on here? "(From) his earliest boyhood the man I killed had listened to stories about the heroic Trung sisters and Tran Hung Dao's famous rout of the Mongols and Le Loi's final victory against the Chinese at Tot Dong. He had been taught that to defend the land was a man's highest duty and highest privilege. He accepted this…”




  1. For the remainder of the story O'Brien portrays himself as profoundly moved by this death: "Later Kiowa said, 'I'm serious. Nothing anybody could do. Come on, Tim, stop staring." How would you describe O'Brien's emotional state in this scene?



  1. In "Ambush," Tim O'Brien's daughter, Kathleen, asks if he ever killed a man: "'You keep writing these war stories,' she said, 'so I guess you must've killed somebody.'" Following this, O'Brien relates two possible scenarios of the death described in "The Man I Killed" to explain "This is why I keep writing war stories." In your opinion, why does O'Brien keep writing war stories?





  1. Reread "Good Form" (it's extremely short). In it, O'Brien tells two more versions of "The Man I Killed" story. In the first, Tim simply sees a dead soldier, the one with the star-shaped hole in his cheek, laying at the side of the road. "I did not kill him." Following this, O'Brien admits that "even that story is made up." In the second version, he explains the he merely saw many faceless, dead men. Where does truth reside in this book? What is the connection between O'Brien's actual experiences and the events in this book? Why is O'Brien using lies to get at "the truth"?




  1. In "Ambush," O'Brien tells part of "The Man I Killed" story to his daughter, Kathleen. Consider that O'Brien might not actually have a daughter. Would that change how you felt about the story? If he doesn't have a daughter, what is she doing in this novel?


"The Man I Killed," "Ambush.," & "Good Form" Journal



  1. When Tim O'Brien introduces the subject of "The Man I Killed," he does it with the following description. Why does he start here? Why use these details? "His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other eye was a star-shaped hole, his eyebrows were thin and arched like a woman's, his nose was undamaged, there was a slight tear at the lobe of one ear, his clean black hair was swept upward into a cowlick at the rear of the skull…”



  1. "The Man I Killed" describes fairly intimate aspects of the dead man's life? Where do these details come from? How can Tim O'Brien know them? What is going on here? "(From) his earliest boyhood the man I killed had listened to stories about the heroic Trung sisters and Tran Hung Dao's famous rout of the Mongols and Le Loi's final victory against the Chinese at Tot Dong. He had been taught that to defend the land was a man's highest duty and highest privilege. He accepted this…”





  1. For the remainder of the story O'Brien portrays himself as profoundly moved by this death: "Later Kiowa said, 'I'm serious. Nothing anybody could do. Come on, Tim, stop staring." How would you describe O'Brien's emotional state in this scene?




  1. In "Ambush," Tim O'Brien's daughter, Kathleen, asks if he ever killed a man: "'You keep writing these war stories,' she said, 'so I guess you must've killed somebody.'" Following this, O'Brien relates two possible scenarios of the death described in "The Man I Killed" to explain "This is why I keep writing war stories." In your opinion, why does O'Brien keep writing war stories?




  1. Reread "Good Form" (it's extremely short). In it, O'Brien tells two more versions of "The Man I Killed" story. In the first, Tim simply sees a dead soldier, the one with the star-shaped hole in his cheek, laying at the side of the road. "I did not kill him." Following this, O'Brien admits that "even that story is made up." In the second version, he explains the he merely saw many faceless, dead men. Where does truth reside in this book? What is the connection between O'Brien's actual experiences and the events in this book? Why is O'Brien using lies to get at "the truth"?




  1. In "Ambush," O'Brien tells part of "The Man I Killed" story to his daughter, Kathleen. Consider that O'Brien might not actually have a daughter. Would that change how you felt about the story? If he doesn't have a daughter, what is she doing in this novel?





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