In Walter Dean Myers book Fallen Angels, the main character Richie struggles with the reality of war, which contradicts the war he believed he was entering into. The book shows racial conflicts between soldiers. The loss of innocence within the young soldiers. How soldiers cope with the horrors of war. All of these factors change Richies view on the Vietnam War which he has entered.
Richie a young black soldier from Harlem has had to deal with racism his entire life. Though this made his life tough it never put him in life in the line of gunfire on a day to day bases. ‚Richie learns that the old squad leader, Sargent Sampson has been sent home. His replacement is the racist Sergeant Donagan, who always places black soldiers in the most dangerous positions. Early in their tour of duty, there are racial and ethnic tensions among the squad members, which frequently result in physical confrontations..‚(Spark Notes). Racial issues made an already miserable war, even harder for Richie, being the most venerable to attack based on the color of one skin even though they belonged to the same unit, fighting for the same side shows the different issues with the Vietnam War.
Soldiers in Vietnam were not all grown men, insted teenagers who had not experienced the world. ‚The title of the novel Fallen Angels immediately emphasizes the theme of youth and innocence‚(Spark Notes). When Richie enters Vietnam he was young in many ways, innocent in even more. Richie was nineteen, fresh out of high school, had never left Harlem, smoked a cigar, drank wine, or the most important to Riche made love to a women. These young men were expected to go out and fight an enemy that many of them did not know, or know the exact reason for the fighting. In chapter four Lieutenant Carroll states ‚All soldiers are Angel Warriors‚. Dan Myers holds this theme of innocence above all the others, race, class, or religion. The war soon changes the naive boys, into harden young men.
‚The unspeakable horrors around the boys force them to contemplate a world that does not conform to their childish and simplistic notions. Where they want to see only a separation between right and wrong, they instead find moral ambiguity. Where they want to see order and meaning, they find only chaos and senselessness. Where they want to find heroism, they find only the selfish instinct of self-preservation. These realizations destroy the boys‚ innocence, prematurely thrusting them into manhood‚ (Spark Notes).Growing up is something every young man needs to go through, though the violent and tramatic ways it occurers in war is not a positive way.
The reality of the war affects the soldiers in many ways, more negative then positive. Like all the other soldiers in Fallen Angels, Richie joins the army with illusions about what war is like. Like many American citizens, he has learned about war from movies and stories that portray battle as heroic and glorious, the army as efficient and organized, and warfare as a efficent effort that depends on skill. What the soldiers actually find in Vietnam isalmost no resemblance to such a romanticized version of war. The army is highly inefficient. Most of the officers are far from heroic, looking out only for their own lives and careers rather than the lives of their soldiers. In the heat of battle, the soldiers think only about self-preservation and ways they can personally survive the chaos and violence. Paralyzed by fear, they act blindly and thoughtlessly, often accidently killing their allies in the process. The battles and military strategies of the war are disorganized, and officers often accidentally reveal their position to the enemy.
The longer Richie is their his view on the war he thought he knew changes. Richie grows increasingly doubtful about whether American assistance helps the Vietnamese villages, as he sees that the Communist Vietcong retaliate against any villages that receive American aid. Any good that the Americans might do, it seems, leads only to greater evils. As much as they try, the American soldiers cannot protect the South Vietnamese people, and the soldiers‚ presence only puts the village in greater danger. Richie is no longer able to believe that he is fighting for any clear moral reasons, and he struggles to find meaning for his stay in Vietnam. He finally decides that his only purpose in Vietnam is to stay alive and to help his friends do the same.
All of these factors change Riche from a yung boy who was innocent and acted like such, into a grown man who grew up to fast and saw too many horrible things to