Here's the thing about the Vietnam War in this book: there aren't many rich dudes fighting in it. At least, not fighting in active combat, like Perry is. Most of the guys on the front lines are like Perry and Peewee: young men who joined the army because they needed money, or guys who were too poor to go to college and defer the draft.
Perry also has his family to think about. For him, that's his mother and little brother. Providing for them is a big reason that he joins up.
As far as wartime small talk, Perry and his fellow soldiers don't talk about money all the time, but it does come up sometimes, when they talk about their home lives. Mostly, Perry deals with his family's poverty privately, by sending his brother and Mom money whenever he can.
Questions About Poverty
- What similarities to Perry and Peewee see between their communities and the Vietnamese villages they visit?
- What does Perry do to support his Mama and Kenny while he is in the army?
- What options would Perry have had if he hadn't joined the army?
- Why does the army appeal to Peewee? Do you agree with his reason for joining?
Chew on This
Perry and Peewee's shared poverty is part of what brings them together and keeps them close.
Perry uses his poverty as an excuse for joining the army. His real reasons for joining are more complicated and subtle.