Fallen Angels | Study Guide

Walter Dean Myers

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Fallen Angels | Chapter 6 | Summary



Perry and Lobel take an evening of guard duty, watching the outer perimeter of the camp. They discuss reality and movies, with Lobel claiming that the war is not real, that everyone is just playing a role. As the time passes, Perry thinks back to telling his mother he was enlisting in the army, thinking, "I wouldn't have joined if I had seen anything else to do." Their guard duty passes by uneventfully.

A television crew arrives at the camp, and Captain Stewart assigns Perry's platoon to take them on a patrol. Monaco, at the lead, sees one Viet Cong soldier and opens fire. The rest of the platoon joins in, except for Perry, who later realizes that he had forgotten to load his rifle. They retrieve the body and head back to the camp, with the news crews taking hundreds of photos of the dead soldier.


Perry and Lobel's guard duty is uneventful, but their conversation touches on some key issues of the Vietnam War. For Lobel, everything in the war is simply a movie part to be played. When he goes out into the "firefight" to help Charlie Company, he plays a tough sergeant. When he is on guard duty, he is relaxed because "none of this is real" and everyone is "just playing a part." Lobel articulates the absurdity of the war, where young men like himself risk their lives to reach mission objectives without knowing the end goals of those objectives.

Myers juxtaposes this conversation with the platoon's interviews with the news crew. Lieutenant Carroll tells the soldiers to "demonstrate that America stood for something," and each soldier dutifully performs, reciting something that sounds patriotic and supportive of the war effort. None of them say how they are really feeling; each of them is playing a part for the television crew in the interview and during the filmed patrol. They do manage to kill one Viet Cong soldier, but his dead body is treated like an object and staged for photography and film. The television crew's presence—a means to convey the truth of the war to American households—makes the war feel all the more surreal for Perry.

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