Study Guide

Platoon Warfare

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Platoon is a movie about the Vietnam War, sure, but it goes about the whole war thing just a little bit differently than most movies.

While the battle between the NVA enemy troops and the United States soldiers is front and center, the film gives equal attention to a different kind of war, the one within the platoon itself. Two big personalities (Elias and Barnes) divide the platoon along ideological lines, and the conflict between them ultimately fractures the platoon. In the end, it's the war within the platoon that has the direst of consequences.

Questions About Warfare

  1. Does the platoon win or lose its war against the NVA?
  2. What is the end result of the war within the platoon?
  3. Are there any ways in which this film glorifies war? How do you know?
  4. Are Chris Taylor's reasons for running off to war good reasons? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Platoon makes a very clear point about war: it is a horrific fact of modern life, and one that doesn't benefit anybody.

War is paradoxical. The attempt to defeat a foreign enemy in battle often leads to even greater conflicts, such as the mini-civil war within the platoon itself.

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