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plans, maybe just my dreams really, had been to go to college, and
to write. . . . All the other guys in the neighborhood thought I
was going to college. I wasn’t, and the army was the place I was
going to get away from all the questions.
In this passage from Chapter 2,
Richie reflects on his dreams, giving us insight into his motivations
for joining the army. Enlisting, we learn, was not a well-thought-out
decision, but rather a form of escapism. Richie wanted to dodge
the real world, questions about his future, and the frustration
of seeing his hopes fizzle. He also hints that enlisting was an
attempt to escape the judgment of others. He feels that those who
had high expectations for him would be disappointed if he could
not fulfill them.
Richie is also afraid of not living up to his dreams and
disappointing himself. His inability to go to college and become
a writer is not due to any personal failure—he excelled in high
school—but simply to his family’s extreme poverty. His father abandoned
the family years ago, and his mother is a depressive alcoholic who wastes
her money on liquor. Richie first calls his hopes for the future “plans”
and then revises the word to “dreams,” indicating that these were
never really practical or even possible. These plans are impossible
in part because of his impoverished situation but also in part because
of the lack of encouragement from his mother, teachers, and guidance
counselors, none of whom ever took his hopes seriously. As a result,
Richie feels strong doubts about his future, which drive him to
risk this future by enlisting in the army.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Fallen Angels!