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The book Fallen Angels, by, Walter Dean Myers does a satisfactory job portraying the life of a United States solider in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The average age of an American solder was 19 years old. These solders had to quickly learn and adapt to a war environment to survive the war mentally and physically. Many of the solders in the book had their own different ways to cope with the horrors they perceive during the war, so they don’t go insane.
The main character in the book, Richard Perry has just graduated high school and he has decided to enlist into the army because even with good grades he could not afford to go to college living with his alcoholic mother. When perry landed in Vietnam, he defiantly was not ready to witness what was has to offer. While fighting in Vietnam, Perry has witnessed things that nobody would want to witness in their lifetimes, things that really make you think and question your being. He has witnessed so many disturbing scenes, like death, killing and even killing your own. Being a solder in the Vietnam War, Richard Perry needs to find a way to cope with what he has seen, what he has done, and with the war in general. What Perry does is to ‘escape’ the war is he tends to think about his family back home. He thinks about his mom, and his brother who means a lot to him even though he doesn’t show the expression towards his mother as much as his brother Kenny. He also thinks about his past experiences back at home and in the war. Another copping mechanism that Richie does is he thinks about his home town of Harlem, New York. He thinks about the things and people he has left behind and the possible scenarios of what would have happened if he didn’t enlist into the army. Richie is the one who is having trouble understanding his observations and refuses to turn down the complicated issues they bring up.
Another character named Lobel shows strong signs of trying to ‘escape’ the war through pretending like all its a big movie. Lobel turns to movies he sees Vietnam as a giant film set and he sees himself as the protagonist of a war movie. His fascination with movies is more than just a diversion, it’s an escape from a fact that’s too hard to face for Lobel. He firmly sticks to the idea that the movies are ‘the only true thing in life,’ thereby enabling himself to cast off the horrific sights that he sees as unreal around him. Lobel’s fascination with films helps him sort out the difficult morality problems that face Richie. While thinking that the world of films is far more realistic than the battlefield. Lobel will believe that it’s not even worth questioning these challenging questions.
Harold Gates or Peewee also has his own unique way of dealing with being in the war. Throughout the book you see Peewee using his humor and boldness to cope with the war and his fears. Peewee reacts with cocky comedy to confusion and fear, making jokes from any awkward suspicions. When Peewee is suddenly overwhelmed by the Vietnamese child who became a sacrifice. By laughing and making inappropriate comments, Peewee is able to pull himself out of paralysis and he is able to hide his true emotions.
In the book, when one of the solders in the squad unfortunately passes away, there is a lot of crying. The solders also seems to think a lot of that solder alot and what they meant to the squad. For example, when Jenkins stepped on that land mine and blew up. It was the first death Richie had seen in war, and Richie recalls Jenkins and other dead squad members like Carroll and Brew. In war you make friends. In the book the main character Richie gets really close to Peewee. Close enough to call him a best friend he made throughout war. Richie could go to Peewee anytime to ask anything because of how close they have gotten. When the solders writes home to family, they don’t seem to talk about the war. I think that would be for reasons like they don’t want their parents and or brothers and sisters to know how war really is. So it looks like the solders writes about other things to avoid the topic of war.
Overall, I liked reading this book, it went into great detail on how solders in the Vietnam war were and reacted to different situations. I would recommend this book to others.
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