Study Guide

Sergeant Dongan in Fallen Angels

By Walter Dean Myers

Sergeant Dongan

When Simpson finally goes home, Sergeant Dongan takes his place.

It's not the best trade-off.

Dongan is much older than everyone below him, and so are his politics. He immediately causes a division in the platoon by putting all the black soldiers in the most vulnerable positions in their formation, getting beers with a couple white guys, and ignoring everyone else. Not cool.

He doesn't do anything to show his racism to Perry in particular, but he comes off like he thinks he's above everyone else. Like when he says to Monaco, "When you were still pissing your pants I was kicking ass, kid…This ain't no f***ing war. These slants can't fight. You go up against the Koreans, then you got your damn hands full." (18.101)

Yeesh.

The implication? They're all inexperienced wimps for taking the war seriously at all. Here's a hint: not the best thing to say if you want to inspire loyalty.

As far as the war is concerned, Dongan's Korean War experience blinds him to the level of danger in Vietnam. Joke's on him, though, because he dies in the very next battle. (Okay, fine, not a very funny joke.)

Unlike when other soldiers died, like Lieutenant Carroll and Brew, the platoon doesn't memorialize Dongan in any way. They burn his body with all the others from that battle, and move on. Maybe a good metaphor for leaving behind Dongan's discriminatory ideas, too.

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