Study Guide

Jamal in Fallen Angels

By Walter Dean Myers

Jamal

Jamal's a medic who makes his first appearance when Perry feels like he's dying, and Jamal gives him a very professional diagnosis: "You got the s***s." (7.52)

He's right, though. Perry argues with him, but recovers a few days letter. Lucky, that.

Jamal's a guy who really likes to be right and in the know, whether about bowel movements or troop movements. When he interacts with Perry's platoon, it's mostly to tell them what's going on among their higher-ups.

For instance, he lets them know the official death counts reported and tells the platoon about the argument between Stewart and Simpson over how many battles they're being volunteered to fight. It's like Gossip Girl, Vietnam-style.

Things change for Jamal overnight when he's assigned to their squad, which means going to battle with them rather than staying on the American base.

Suddenly, he's not so confident. When Brunner asks if he's man enough to handle combat, Jamal is honest. "'No, I don't think so,' Jamal said. 'But they're sending me, anyway.'" (14.193)

Jamal freaks out and cries in battle, but he's also useful. When Perry gets hit in the legs, Jamal checks him out and gets him to the medical chopper. So he turns out okay under pressure, after all.

Still, Stewart eventually takes Jamal off the squad, and when that happens the soldiers speculate that it's "so that Jamal could serve him coffee anytime he wanted him to" (21.1).

Does this hurt Jamal's macho pride? Can't hurt something that's not there. Unlike some of the other guys in the platoon, Jamal doesn't feel the need to prove himself in combat. He's happy with a job where it's easier to stay alive.

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