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At first Monaco seems sort of like an extra in a movie, just background wallpaper. Then the scene comes when he throws an empty grenade at Brunner and Brunner calls Monaco "a f***ing kid." That should stick in your head.
Brunner is often terrible, but he isn't off-base this time. It was really immature and horrible to throw a grenade toward a group of soldiers who are your friends, even if you're not actually planning on blowing them up. Still, he caused a tiny mass panic by not thinking about how the others would feel.
But Monaco changes over the course of the story. Sure, he's no sage old philosopher at the end, but he does mature. And he starts to want different things.
Early on, he says, "I ain't getting married…I'm playing the field my whole life." (7.120) But when his girlfriend proposes to him, Monaco really thinks it through. He keeps marveling at the letter, re-reading it, and he says, "it takes balls for a chick to propose to a guy." (14.87)
It seems like he's seeing things from her point of view, imagining the courage it must have taken to write it. Finally, he's thinking about how someone else might feel.
In the ongoing standoff against the racist Dongan, Johnson counts Monaco in with all the black men in the platoon—men Dongan doesn't like. "Maybe because he got along with us so well, I don't know." (17.93) He may be a bit of a brat, but he's not a bad dude, and he doesn't let prejudice get in the way of friendship.
Plus, he openly shows affection for his friends. Perry's surprised by the big hug Monaco gives him when he returns from the hospital. And Monaco makes it a point to let all the guys in the platoon know that they're invited to his future wedding. No wonder they like him back.
And it may be why, when Monaco has a PTSD-like episode where he sees Vietcong soldiers who aren't really there, the other guys take care of him and cover up the fact that he shot at nothing inside the hooch. Now that's friendship.
The only time Monaco really struggles to communicate is after Perry and Peewee save his life. What he comes up with is, "I was dead, Perry. I was actually sitting there with that Cong gun right on my ass and I was dead." (23.20)
Few things are more bonding than surviving together. Monaco, Perry, and Peewee are closer than ever while they're in the hospital. But Monaco has to return to the platoon traumatized, while Peewee and Perry get to go home. Tough break for the kid, but at least he's more likeable by the time he makes his exit.