The Vietnam War has become an important symbol and signifier in contemporary American culture and politics. The word "Vietnam" contains many meanings and narratives, including both the real events of the American War in Vietnam and the fictional representations of that war. Because we live in a reality that is composed of both lived experience and simulacra, defined by Baudrillard as a hyperreality, fiction and simulation are capable of representing particular realities. Vietnam was shaped by simulacra of Vietnam itself as well as simulacra of previous American conflicts, especially World War II; however, the hyperreality of Vietnam differed largely from that of World War II. Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried are highly fictionalized texts that accurately portray particular realities of Vietnam. These texts are capable of presenting truth about Vietnam through their use of specific metafictional techniques, which continually remind readers and viewers that the story being told is not reality but a story. By emphasizing the fictional elements of their narratives, Apocalypse Now and The Things They Carried point to the constructed nature of reality and empower readers to recognize the possibility of truth in different, even conflicting, narratives.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Middleton, Alexis Turley, "A True War Story: Reality and Simulation in the American Literature and Film of the Vietnam War" (2008). All Theses and Dissertations. 1492.
Vietnam War, World War II, United States, war, literature, Tim O'Brien, Francis Coppola, Jean Baudrillard, hyperreal, fiction, reality, metafiction, surrealism, representation, narrative