Fallen Angels | Study Guide

Walter Dean Myers

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Fallen Angels | Chapter 2 | Summary

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Summary

In Tan Son Nhut, Perry and Peewee wait nine days for their next orders. They play chess, chat with other soldiers who have been around longer, and share the stories of how they came to be in the war. Both Perry and Peewee signed up voluntarily; neither was drafted. Both are African American, and both come from poor families living in urban areas: Perry from Harlem and Peewee from Chicago. Perry wanted to go to college but hopes that the army will provide a steady income to help provide for his younger brother. Peewee does not think there will really be much fighting and also looks forward to an opportunity to improve his circumstances: " ... this is the first place I ever been in my life where I got what everybody else got."

Analysis

A glimpse into Perry and Peewee's background reveals that neither had clear expectations of what they would face in the army. Perry says that it "[s]eemed like a good idea at the time," but then he muses about how he wanted to go to college and become a writer. His family's financial situation had made that impossible, but his primary motivator is improving his family's financial situation enough to allow his brother to finish high school. Peewee's motivation to join the army is even less clear. He went to the recruiter along with a friend, whom the army refused because of his criminal history. Peewee, like Perry, seems to think that the army provides a more stable lifestyle than staying in his neighborhood.

The reader learns that both Perry and Peewee are African American when another black man approaches them asking them to forge a blood oath to protect one another, saying they should not trust the white men in their unit to do so. Peewee and Perry decline, but they later perform a similar kind of promise with one another based more on friendship than on shared racial identity. These two scenes begin to outline the tense interracial dynamics of the integrated platoon. Although Perry and Peewee seem to make their oath to stave off fear as they are deployed, the other African American man's concerns are genuine, and there are situations later in the novel where the relationships among soldiers are complicated by differences in race or faith.

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