Study Guide

Fallen Angels Warfare

By Walter Dean Myers

Warfare

Here's a game: close your eyes, open the book to a random page, and point at a sentence. Does it fit the "warfare" theme? You win a prize. After all, Fallen Angels is a war book, and the characters aren't exactly in Vietnam for vacay.

As a new soldier, Perry changes from a total civilian ready for some action to someone who is deeply mentally scarred by the war. And as readers, we take the journey with him.

When it comes to describing combat, Myers doesn't hold back. From his sensory details of the physical realities of the Vietnam War—the exhaustion of wading through rice paddies, the tedium and discomfort of waiting in holes in the ground—to the emotional toll it takes, he describes everything. Perry is terrified constantly, and as the war goes on, he sometimes feels outside of his body. (In case you were curious, that's totally a symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.)

This all adds up to a picture of war that isn't shiny and heroic. More like horrible and personal. That's war for you.

Questions About Warfare

  1. How do different soldiers mask or show their fear, and what does that say about their personalities?
  2. Why do you think Myers wrote the scene in which American soldiers accidentally kill their own men?
  3. Why do the men in Perry's squad turn away from the soldier who is dying?
  4. Do you think Perry becomes another person (symbolically, not literally) by the end of the war?

Chew on This

The symptoms that Perry and his fellow soldiers experience demonstrate how war affects soldiers long-term, even when they're not in combat.

Richard Perry manages to find a way to kill in combat, while still holding onto his own identity and humanity.

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