Study Guide

Platoon Family

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Platoon isn't about mom and dad, but about a group of brothers—the platoon itself.

They are a brotherhood if there ever was one, a brotherhood that is ultimately shattered by the events of the war. In fact, Platoon is more about destroyed families than anything else. From Barnes' killing of a Vietnamese family's matriarch, to Chris Taylor's own strained, even antagonistic, relationship with his parents (one of the reasons he goes to Vietnam is because he doesn't want to be like his parents), the message is clear: war ruins families all over the place, so much so that its survival is doubtful.

Questions About Family

  1. In what ways is Elias a father figure to Taylor?
  2. In what ways is Barnes a father figure to Taylor?
  3. How is the platoon like a family? How is not?
  4. What do you make of Taylor's relationship to his parents? Why include that detail in his character?

Chew on This

Just as Chris Taylor is shaped by his two military parents (Barnes and Elias), so too does family often shape our lives—the things we do, the people we become.

War is really great at destroying families, a fact dramatized both by the platoon's killing of a mother in the village and their own internal destruction.

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