Study Guide

Fallen Angels Warfare

By Walter Dean Myers


Chapter 2

I was scared. My mouth was going dry and I could see that Peewee was scared, too. Jenkins was crying. It made me feel a little better to see him crying like that. (2.134)

For being in this serious of freakout mode, the guys must be out for their first battle, right? Not even. They're just on the flight to their first assignment in Chu Lai, and the war's already starting to feel real. Considering what they'll be up against, no wonder Perry, Peewee, and Jenkins are scared.

Chapter 4

The neat pile of body bags was waiting for the rest of us. There were enough there—the supply clerk had reached for the top one without even looking—to know that they expected that many of us would be going home in them. (4.14)

Just in case you were starting to calm down, here's a great reason to stay terrified. Sure, Perry knew that, in theory, he could die in combat, but seeing all those body bags waiting to be filled definitely doesn't exactly feel like a good sign. It's a reminder of how casual war has become for some people: the clerk isn't even thinking about the actual people who could fill those bags. Not exactly good for morale.

Chapter 8

We looked for the wounded. They were all over the place. The medics were so busy they were just tagging guys. The ones they thought they could save they worked on, the others they marked their wounds down. One kid, the angry stain of blood on his T-shirt growing with every breath, watched calmly as the medic wrote up the tag. (8.74)

This is a sad scene for a lot of reasons. First, this is when the platoon accidentally shot at other Americans. Maybe the saddest thing is the detail of medics tagging men who they know will die, while the not-quite-dead-yet men just watch them helplessly. There's no way to make a positive out of that.

The guys that our artillery blew away didn't have a reason to die. They hadn't been facing the enemy. They just died because someone else was scared, maybe careless. They died because they were in Nam, where being scared made you do things you would regret later. We were killing our brothers, ourselves. (8.108)

Human error is a part of war, and sometimes it means the wrong side gets killed. It's not easy to accept for Perry, but he's learning that there's a lot that's unfair about war.

Chapter 9

I noticed that lately there were things I would let myself think about, and things I wouldn't. But every once in a while things would come into my mind, not like a thought but like a picture, and I felt a little strange about that. (9.18)

So, seeing memories like they're pictures? Not a good sign. It's like Perry can't handle the memories as they are, so his brain turns them into still images so they're easier to deal with. It's like photography, except in your head and definitely a sign of trauma.

Chapter 11

We spent another day lying around. It seemed to be what the war was about. Hours of boredom, seconds of terror. (11.24)

The combat part is pretty scary, don't get us wrong, and Perry's definitely not clamoring to see more innocent people die around him. But being bored sucks too, even if it sucks less than fighting for your life. Literary note: hours of boredom don't exactly make for a fascinating story, so it's impressive that Walter Dean Myers managed to write about both sides of being at war.

Chapter 13

I had gone through basic training just fine until the end when we had to go under live fire. The noises shook you, made you want to stop and hide.
Now it was different. Now the sound swelled in my consciousness like a dull headache. It kept coming and coming, day and night. Sometimes I felt as if the sounds were inside me somehow. And there were the times, I never wanted to mention them to anyone else, that I heard the sounds at night when it was very quiet, and no one else heard them. (13.32-33)

Now this is definitely a sign of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is an affliction a lot of soldiers suffer from, sometimes long after they're in combat. It's possible that Perry will sometimes hear bombing and gunfire even if he survives and returns to the US. Not fun.

The wounded man screamed for a while, then begged for a while, then went back to screaming. We turned away from him, tried to shut him out of our minds. (13.138)

It might seem cruel of the other soldiers to turn away from a wounded man and let him die alone, but to them, it's survival. They don't want to look at what could be their future, because that might make them completely break down. Yeesh.

Chapter 16

I thought about what Peewee had said. That I had better think about killing the Congs before they killed me. That had better be my reason, he had said, until I got back to the World. Maybe it was right. But it meant being some other person than I was when I got to Nam. Maybe that was what I had to be. Someone else. (16.128)

Perry has been more or less driving himself crazy trying to figure out whether killing Vietcong soldiers is the right thing to do. But here's the dilemma: he can't worry too much without being in danger of getting killed himself. Maybe he's right that in war, you have to be a different version of yourself.

Chapter 18

At his feet the soldier, still alive, was moaning in pain. I looked and saw that they had cut his finger off. I looked up into the face of the Cong soldier. He was young, no more than a teenager. He looked scared and tired, same as me. I squeezed the trigger of the sixteen and watched him hurtle backward.
Then I sat down on the ground to rest. (18.172-173)

Looks like Perry's succeeded in his goal of becoming some other person while he's at war: he recognizes himself in an enemy, and still kills him. Um, congrats?

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