Fallen Angels | Study Guide

Walter Dean Myers

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Fallen Angels | Chapter 12 | Summary



The squad gets the mail, including a college catalog for Walowick—which leads a discussion of his future back in the "world"—and a newspaper with an article about men who are burning their draft cards. The men take different opinions about what is "right" and whether they would have dodged the draft if they could. Brew admits he thought about heading to Canada.

That night, the camp is hit by rocket fire, and Captain Stewart talks about getting more aggressive toward the Viet Cong. Johnson and Perry return to the discussion about burning draft cards. Johnson and Perry both admit to not thinking much about why they were fighting before they entered the war, but Perry is more bothered by it than Johnson, who concludes, "That's for people like you to mess with."


The mail keeps the squad in contact with the real world, bringing news of the lives of their family and friends who continue in their absence. It also brings hope to those who try to make plans for their lives once they are back in the "world." Walowick and (previously) Brew have received college catalogs and correspondence about potential admission, which gives them something to look forward to after they leave Vietnam.

Johnson and Perry's discussion offers a little deeper insight into Perry's thinking about the war, which he is still struggling to understand. Johnson draws the conclusion that the fact that the war is in Vietnam does not matter; it is the show of force that is important. Although his answer seems simplistic, it is an interpretation that is grounded in the rationale of the Cold War era, when the United States was fighting wars against communist parties all around the world in an effort to promote capitalist democracy as the governing world order. Perry concedes that this "might be a good reason to be over here," but is not wholly convinced. He has difficulty reconciling the rationalization for the war that he learned in school—fighting against communism—with the day-to-day realities of war, where "the only thing they're talking about is keeping your ass in one piece."

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