Study Guide

Judy Duncan in Fallen Angels

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Judy Duncan

Even though Perry meets Judy only twice, and both times briefly, it's the kind of meetings where if it were a movie, you'd hear music in the background and see the sparks start to fly between them.

But it's not a romance movie. It's a war novel.

Here's how it pans out. Judy and Perry chat on the plane on their way to Vietnam, where Judy's going to become a nurse. They part in front of a bunch of guys who tease Perry, encouraging him to kiss her.

Then, in classic war-story style, they reunite in a hospital when Perry is wounded. They have a short conversation, and Judy gives Perry a kiss.

But it's not the Perry-and-Judy-sitting-in-a-tree moment you've been waiting for. They've both dealt with a lot since last time they saw each other, and war has changed them both.

The kind of change that makes their reunion kind of sad, instead of a hot romance moment. Perry reflects, "She had seemed so upbeat on the plane. She had come over to me and started talking. Now she seemed tired, sad. I hoped she would be okay." (16.121)

When Perry ends up in the hospital a second time, he hires a man to look Judy up. It seems like this could be a hopeful ending: Perry's on his way home, and now he might have a romantic future with someone. But then word comes back to Perry that Judy died in a field hospital that was hit during battle.

So what's the reason for this mild romantic interlude? Why the build-up?

It's yet another reminder that war isn't like the movies. Not the romance movies, and not even the war movies where the lovers survive and find each other at the end.

It's also a reminder that women played an important and brave role in Vietnam, too, and some of them also died there. When Perry hears about her death, he thinks the man has mistaken her for someone else, saying, "I'm talking about a woman." (23.94) Maybe that's a touch of denial poking through.

Even though women weren't in active combat, they still served bravely in the war. Some of them didn't make it, and they also became—wait for it—fallen angels.

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