Study Guide

The Hurt Locker Death


With war comes death—everyone knows that. The thing that's unique and horrifying about death in The Hurt Locker, though, is the fact that the people dealing with explosives don't just die. Nope—there's also the potential to be completely obliterated—erased—in an instant. That's what happens to Cambridge when he goes out with the EOD team: one minute he's there trying to get some civilians to move, and the next minute his helmet is spinning on the ground, and he's nowhere to be seen.

That's kind of a hard reality to swallow, and it's part of why Eldridge, in particular, lives in almost paralyzing fear.

Questions About Death

  1. What do you make of the way the film portrays death, as compared to other war films? Is the perspective melodramatic? Matter-of-fact? Something else?
  2. Which characters have the healthiest and least healthy attitudes about death? Why do you think that?
  3. What do you think of the way Cambridge dies? How is that moment important to the film?

Chew on This

The film avoids a lot of the drama surrounding character deaths that you might see in other war films, which is fitting since the characters themselves have to deal with death as a commonplace occurrence, not as something exceptional.

Cambridge seems to think that Eldridge's intense fears about war and death are unhealthy, but when the doc dies in the exact manner that obsesses Eldridge—instant and complete obliteration—it's almost like a vindication of that fearfulness.

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