Full title   Fallen Angels

Author  Walter Dean Myers

Type of work  Novel

Genre  Coming-of-age story; historical fiction; war fiction

Language  English

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.

Tense  Past

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.