Summary of “Good Form”
Now O'Brien admits that as a young man he went to war in Vietnam, but everything else was invented. He wants to explain why he wrote the book this way. He watched a man die on the trail, but he did not kill him. He was present, and that was enough. That story of killing him was made up. Why?
He wants the reader to know how it feels to be there: “story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth” (p. 171). Did he actually kill the man? Yes, and no.
Commentary on “Good Form”
O'Brien brings up a subtle point about when a person is actually to blame for an act. If he is a witness or participant in the war, he is culpable on some level. Another point he brings up is what is truth? He tells a story to recreate experience. It does not matter which soldier killed the man on the path, which one committed suicide after the war, which one felt guilt about not saving Kiowa. It was a shared experience that O'Brien is dramatizing.