The strategies implemented by Joseph Conrad and Tim O’Brien in narrating the traumatic experiences to sound like dreams allow the narratives to leave the unspeakable truth unspoken – the silence which leaves room for the contradictions in a complicated reality. The truth that Conrad’s Marlow and Tim O’Brien try to convey to their readers is not simple at all, and it is clothed in mystery, darkness, and the silence in the dream-like narratives of Marlow and O’Brien, admitting their limits as individuals to reach to that truth and the impossibility of completely conveying that sensation to their readers. This research will first look at the two fallacies – empiricist fallacy and normative fallacy – in literary criticism explained by Pierre Macherey and apply his theory in interpreting and finding similarities in Heart of Darkness and The Things They Carried. The narrative insulation, the surreal description of the reality, and the appeal to the listener’s senses effectively establish the two narratives into literature. The strategies implemented by the two narratives will further be compared to the cinematic techniques in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, cinematic adaption of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Despite the applause the movie receives for conveying the reality in Vietnam War, the cinematic techniques such as the voice-over and the overlapping images in the opening and closing scenes do not leave room for silence found in Conrad and O’Brien’s narratives and thus seem weak in conveying the complicated reality of the Vietnam War.
Joseph Conrad, Tim OBrien, Apocalypse Now, Pierre Macherey, Dream Narrative, Silence, Truth