After mapping the three retellings of the story in terms of length, have the students number a blank sheet of paper one, two and three. The students' task is to explain when each of the three scenarios would be retold. The first one is straightforward and already done; he expresses this story to his daughter. Although the reader is aware that this story is false, from the nine-year olds perspective, O'Brien is telling the truth. Therefore, she perceives an image of her father, which is false under the father's pretense. Truth develops another dimension that truth can be hid or rewritten and that it is appropriate and debatably necessary to do so. This might seem odd to students but these type of lies occur frequently and often without our knowledge. Ask them if they can think of any truths that are hidden, from "white lies" -- "I forgot my homework", to significant ambiguity, "Did OJ Simpson murder Nicole Simpson?" Regardless, O'Brien makes clear that lying is sometimes the more appropriate thing to do. Therefore, have the students write examples of when they believe lying is necessary, or in other words, when should humanity be protected from the truth.
The second number on the line corresponds to second anecdotal two-sentence story: "He was a short, slender young man of about twenty. I was afraid of him -- afraid of something -- and as he passed me on the trail I threw a grenade that exploded at his feet and killed him." (O'Brien, 131). Where would this clipped two-sentence response be utilized? This sort of response would probably come from the guilt-ridden lips of a witness or a solider describing his trauma to a concerned yet impartial friend. This type of writing is characteristic of a newspaper, a short account including factual details, such as, the man's age, height, and weight; what, where and why the weapon was used; and what happened as a result. This form of truth is objective and contains very little insight into the human behind this killing; the event appears removed like a picture when in fact it was a living experience. If objectivity is the goal then this piece is accurate but it leaves us with no empathy for the narrator who appears like a robot rather than a human being. This analytic response would appear in the area labeled number two.
The third number on the line corresponds to the third narrative description of the event. This retelling most closely resembles the author's perception of the event from his point of view. He includes his emotions, how he felt, whom he talked to, and the process of his decision-making. This type of response would appear in a novel, in a conversation on a park bench amongst friends, or in a documentary on the Vietnam War. Because he includes details as to how that has affected his psyche the piece becomes noticeably subjective bringing it closer to narrative non-fiction a hard news. At this point, the students should have three numbers on their page corresponding to the three anecdotes and where such writing would appear. Next have the students include further illuminating details about three anecdotes, have the students comment on the anecdotes at length, suggested audience, and finally, a ranking, 1-10 as to what most closely resembles the truth. Remain open-minded as the ranking of truth is completely subjective and can be interpreted in many ways. Several students might insinuate that the interaction between the father and daughter is the most truthful event in the chapter. Have them express this opinion with the class.