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O'Brien is saying "War is what you make of it" and "Peace is what you make of it". The reader can put her or his own spin on war and peace. Does his writing bring him or us closer to the "truth"? Perhaps truth is a myth; that in the experiencing, internalizing, interpreting and re-interpreting the story and as the reader digests the words and creates their own interpretation, the "truth", if it existed in the first place, is hopelessly lost in endless layers of subjectivity. In this chapter, he is saying the truth is "spin".
The closing lines of the chapter capture this well as he talks about the role of stories connecting the past to the future. "Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story". Is this a post modern book, more about meta-narrative than narrative?
One other thought on spin from a public policy perspective. O'Brien is writing from the perspective of a Vietnam war vet. I don't know anything about his post-war life but there were (and are) thousands of vets who suffered terribly from the trauma of fighting in this war, the violence and the guilt and did not get much help from a public and a Government that was trying to forget. The official Government spin machine was in full swing during and after the war trying to repackage and position the war in a more favorable way. I'm thinking that this chapter hints at O'Brien's experiences and views on the use of spin in the public arena.
A side comment; I found the opening lines of this chapter very touching. A one legged boy hops over and asks for a chocolate bar. As he hops away Azar says "War's a bitch .. One leg for Chrissake. Some poor fucker ran out of ammo." Many soldiers must have struggled with their conscience when fighting this brutal war with so many non-combatants mutilated and killed and this sort of callous, dark humor had a place in that struggle. At times, is humor a refuge of the soul?
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