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As a Jew and a suspected homosexual, Lobel suffers from nearly as much prejudice as his Black squad mates. He is thus instantly drawn to Richie and Peewee, and is sympathetic to any racist remarks they receive. The nephew of a Hollywood director, Lobel is obsessed with movies. He incessantly views the war as if it were a movie and at the battlefield as if it were a movie set. He wonders about lighting improvements, set changes, and camera angles. During missions, he imagines himself as an actor playing a role, casting himself as the star of the film so that he is the soldier who does not die. Lobel’s fixation on the movies can be seen as an escape from the harsh reality of war. Lobel finds it too difficult to face this reality unprotected, so he desperately clings to the belief that the movies are “the only real thing in life.” This belief allows him to dismiss or deny the horror of his experience. Like Peewee’s humor, Lobel’s obsession with movies is a way to avoid thinking about the tough questions that plague him—complex questions of right and wrong, good and bad, and life and death. By pretending that the world of movies—not the nightmarish world of Vietnam—is real, Lobel tries to convince himself that such difficult questions are not even important. Despite his escapism, Lobel matures during his time in Vietnam. He begins to worry over his skill as a soldier, to take responsibility for the lives of those around him, and, most impressively, to take a deep interest in issues of fairness. When a racist sergeant nearly tears the squad apart, Lobel takes a brave and loyal stand by declaring his allegiance to his Black squad mates.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Fallen Angels!