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.