Fallen Angels | Study Guide

Walter Dean Myers

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Fallen Angels | Chapter 11 | Summary

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Summary

While the squad struggles to put Lieutenant Carroll's death behind them, Sergeant Simpson asks Perry to write a letter informing the lieutenant's wife of his death. Captain Stewart is impressed by the letter and considers taking Perry on as a kind of secretary, but Perry cannot type. The platoon gets a new leader, Lieutenant Gearhart, who is trained in military reconnaissance. Lobel and Brunner are promoted to sergeant, and everyone else is promoted to corporal.

The platoon is then tasked with taking four civilian men, one of whom is accompanied by his wife and children, on a pacification mission to a village. They debate whether the men and the woman are CIA operatives or not. When they return to the barracks, Peewee receives a letter from Perry's mother that makes Perry a little jealous because she tells Peewee that she loves her son, but never tells her son that directly.

Analysis

Perry's letter to Mrs. Carroll is heartfelt and touching, demonstrating his talent as a writer as well as his sensitivity to the emotional needs of others. In Chapter 9, Perry identifies what kind of "somebody" the war makes Johnson, who is the soldier with the big M-60 who stands up for others, and Monaco, who is the point man. He wonders what kind of person the war has made him, and this letter offers part of an answer. He is the soldier who understands what the other soldiers need to hear, the soldier who looks after the others, knows them, and understands them. He is the writer and the deep thinker who wants to understand their purpose. His skill in writing almost gets him removed from combat to be Stewart's secretary, but his lack of typing skills prevents this.

Perry's jealousy over the letter that Peewee receives from his mother sheds light on their complicated relationship. Perry writes to his mother, but he does not feel a lot of responsibility toward his mother. From Perry's descriptions, she appears to suffer from alcoholism, and Perry took care of himself and his little brother Kenny more than she did. Perry has trouble seeing past her mistakes, and his mother has trouble expressing herself directly to him. Although Perry clearly desires her love and concern, he has difficulty accepting it because of his previous experience with her detachment and negligent care for her children.

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