The Sixties and Seventies. On one side, you've got the hippies being all "make love, not war, man." And on the other side, you've got folks saying that the U.S. has a responsibility to stop the spread of Communism by fighting in South Vietnam. The backdrop of the war is those competing political views being fought out in the U.S.
But on a smaller scale, Perry's platoon has its own set of complicated local politics, many of them having to do with rank. New sergeants and lieutenants faking overconfidence to establish their authority. Captain Stewart trying to maximize his platoon's body count so he can be promoted to Major.
These politics are a big deal, because sometimes they mean risking the lives of the men in the platoon. In war, the consequences of a power trip are way too high.
Questions About Politics
- How does Captain Stewart's quest for a promotion risk his soldiers' lives?
- Why does Brunner call antiwar Americans "faggots and Commies?"
- Why do Captain Stewart and the Vietnamese colonel fight over who should take the hill first?
- How might Captain Stewart's inflation of his kill numbers affect the larger war?
Chew on This
By forcing his men to take cover in a too-small trench, Gearhart's power trip causes Turner's death.
Gearhart needs to fight with Simpson in order to establish his authority over the squad.