Fallen Angels

by: Walter Dean Myers

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

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.