Fallen Angels | Study Guide

Walter Dean Myers

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Fallen Angels | Chapter 5 | Summary

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Summary

Perry and the other members of his squad pass time in the barracks awaiting their next mission for two days while hearing that the peace talks are progressing in Paris. They eat the same food every day and have little entertainment. Perry gets to know Lieutenant Carroll a little more, makes friends with Walowick, and listens to stories about the fighting other men have seen.

Finally, they hear jets hitting a target less than five miles away, and the camp comes alive. Charlie Company is pinned down and needs help. Perry's Alpha Company is made up of four platoons that head out to assist; Perry's platoon secures one side of the landing zone but does not see any real action. The other platoons report that Charlie Company lost nine soldiers and that they were facing North Vietnamese "regulars"—soldiers in the North Vietnamese Army—instead of Viet Cong (North Vietnamese sympathizers who waged guerilla warfare within South Vietnam). Afterward, Lieutenant Carroll asks Perry about his medical profile, and they agree that Perry will continue to go on patrol "until the profile comes down," and then they will decide what his future will hold.

Analysis

The captains and the radio stations continue to speak of the peace talks and act as though the war is almost over. The soldiers gain a false sense of security as they stay within the camp and merely await orders. Perry, Peewee, and even their commanding officers rarely have an accurate idea of what is truly happening in the war. They do not know that Charlie Company has been pinned down all night. They learn that marines were supposed to rescue Charlie Company, but they were redirected to a place where battalion-sized movements of Viet Cong are reported. By telling the story from Perry's perspective, Myers clearly conveys the way that the U.S. Army restricts information within its ranks. The soldiers follow orders as part of a larger machine, not because they clearly understand exactly how their actions will impact the war effort.

Sergeant Simpson's observations after the mission to rescue Charlie Company signify that the conflict is worsening, no matter what the rumors about peace talks may say. Sergeant Simpson first observes that the men they were fighting were not wearing "no damn pajamas," meaning that they were not wearing the loose black shirt and trousers that were the uniform of the Viet Cong. He says they were "North Vietnamese regulars," indicating that the North Vietnamese Army has a battalion-size group of soldiers within South Vietnamese territory, where they expected only to see the insurgent Viet Cong fighters. In response, Sergeant Simpson says that the commanders are planning to bring in a long-range surveillance team to the area, which indicates that the commanders have doubts about how well-controlled the South Vietnamese territory around them truly is; in turn, the conflict may be intensifying despite the ongoing peace talks.

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