full title Fallen Angels
author Walter Dean Myers
type of work Novel
genre Coming-of-age story; historical fiction; war fiction
time and place written 1988; Jersey City, New Jersey.
date of first publication 1988
publisher Scholastic Inc.
narrator Richie Perry, a young African-American soldier in the Vietnam War
point of view Richie tells the story in the first person, giving us immediate, intimate access to his thoughts and feelings as the action unfolds.
tone Richie speaks with immediacy and poignancy, baring his innermost fears and thoughts. He filters the action of the novel through the medium of these emotions and ideas.
setting (time) Several months in 1967 and 1968
setting (place) Vietnam
protagonist Richie Perry
major conflict Richie struggles to come to terms with the grim reality of war, which contradicts the myths about war that he believed going into it.
rising action Richie’s enlistment in the army to escape a bleak future; the misplacement of Richie’s medical file, and his resulting assignment to Vietnam; Richie’s burgeoning friendship with Peewee, Jenkins, and Johnson; the soldiers’ journey to their camp near Chu Lai.
climax Richie’s success in drafting a truthful letter to his brother that discusses honestly the unromantic and gruesome nature of combat.
falling action The poorly planned mission on which the squad is sent; Peewee and Richie’s separation from the rest of the squad; Peewee and Richie’s quick thinking to save the lives of Monaco and the rest of the squad; Peewee’s and Richie’s getting wounded in the battle.
themes The loss of innocence; the unromantic reality of war; the moral ambiguity of war
motifs Race; friendship; heroism
symbols Richie’s letters home; the lost dog tags; war movies
foreshadowing The army’s failure to process Richie’s medical file properly hints that Richie will not receive a medical discharge and will have to fight; the army’s bureaucratic mix-up at the airport in Osaka previews the general chaos of war and the ineffectiveness of trying to control that chaos.