Fallen Angels Study Guide

Fallen Angels Study Guide

Original title:
Fallen Angels

The painful theme of Vietnam War still is acute for the American society, even after all these years. But only a few authors depicted it with such degree of truth as Walter Dean Myers. The war here is shown through the eyes of a very young adult, who enlists the army to support his family, not knowing about the hell that waits for him and his fellow soldiers ahead.

The war described by Myers isn’t only the constant danger on the foreign and hostile territory. Lots of issues the protagonist faces come from his very own regiment: the racial segregation with white commanders willing to sacrifice black soldiers as cannon fodder, the incompetence of the whole chain of commandment, the ignorance of the higher authorities and the complete impossibility to tell the close ones outside of the war about what is happening for real.

This theme - the line dividing the veterans from civilians - is very prominent in the book. We see our hero struggling to write letters to his family, because his own world shrank to the size of the position of his regiment, and he doesn’t know how to transcribe his feelings into words. Moreover, he isn’t even sure that he wants to share his experience with someone who haven’t survived through the same hell.

The name of the book “Fallen Angels” is also very metaphorical. From the one side it tells us about the loss of innocence in the most horrible way possible by the young soldiers going to Vietnam, but from the other hand, the wounded veterans who return home and decide to stand tall for the rest of the soldiers and new recruits who are yet to go through the meat grinder of war, become angels for them. They fell in the battle but returned home reborn as benevolent guardians of their brethren.

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