Study Guide

Lobel in Fallen Angels

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Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The thing that seems to follow Lobel around is the accusation that he's gay. He doesn't talk about men like he's interested in them, but there's something about him that seems to provoke that opinion in people. Brunner calls him gay, and Dongan doesn't have a beer with him because he suspects he's gay.

These slights don't seem to (outwardly) bother him. He tells Brunner, "Just because I don't have my serial number tattooed on my genitals does not mean I'm a fag." (4.58)

He denies, again and again, that he is gay. We can't find out for sure if he's lying though, because we're in Perry's head and Lobel doesn't exactly talk to him about it.

If he is gay, not coming out in the 60's is understandable. Hitch a ride to the book's "Prejudice" theme to learn why.

Dear Old Dad

Lobel can't always float above all the hate. There is someone whose opinion matters to him a lot: his dad. And his dad never seems too happy with him.

When Lobel gets a letter from his dad, calling him out for going to war to "kill innocent people" (9.77), he admits that he's especially mad "Because I joined the friggin' army in the first place so he would stop thinking I was a faggot." (9.82)

Whether or not Lobel is gay, he wanted to change his dad's opinion of him by showing him he was tough.

Yeah, that didn't work.

Lobel rails against his dad's letter at first, saying he hopes he dies in combat so his dad will have to deal with it, and hinting that he's now trained to kill his father if he wanted to. (9.84-86) Now that's taking being a brat to a serious extreme.

But later, he writes a letter apologizing to his dad for joining the army. Perry doesn't think Lobel's actually sorry, but he gets why he wrote it:

"Having people care about you was probably the only thing that made any of it right. Having them not care made your whole life wrong." (15.102)

Lobel doesn't have a wife or girlfriend to write to, like some of the other guys. So he clings to what he has: his dad. He needs that one person to lean on, no matter how he feels about him or his politics.

Let's Go To The Movies

Unlike many of the men in his platoon, Lobel didn't grew up poor. His family is like this: his dad treasures "his vodka martinis" (9.84), Lobel claims to have "dated more starlets than you can imagine" (6.47), and his uncle is a director. Let's just say they're not exactly on a budget.

Lobel's a film buff, and movies are his crutch in any dangerous situation. On Perry's first guard duty with him, Lobel admits, "I'd be real nervous, except I know none of this is real and I'm just playing a part." (6.24) Well, pretending it's fake is one way to cope.

Like jokes for Peewee, movies are Lobel's way of lightening the mood. They put distance between him and the situations he's in.

But pretending you're in a movie isn't going to work forever. Toward the beginning of Perry's last mission, Lobel sees a Vietcong soldier getting out of the water and shoots him at close range.

"I killed him!"
Lobel was shaking. He had killed his first man up close. He had seen him die. It was personal. The s*** was real. He was a killer. (21.99)

It's a bad sign. When the guy who's always able to distance himself from the war by playing cinema almost breaks down after what would be a great action movie sequence, you can guess the mission isn't going to go well.

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