Fallen Angels Book Summary - Fallen Angels Book explained in key points

Fallen Angels summary

Walter Dean Myers

Brief summary

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers is a powerful novel that depicts the experiences of young soldiers in the Vietnam War. It explores themes of race, identity, and the harsh realities of war.

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    Fallen Angels
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    The Reality of War

    Walter Dean Myers' novel Fallen Angels immerses readers into the harsh realities of the Vietnam War. The story unfolds through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, a newly enlisted soldier from Harlem, New York. Initially believing his deployment would be averted due to a medical condition, Perry soon finds himself thrust into the tumultuous world of war, far from his family and the dreams of becoming a writer.

    A diverse group of soldiers greets Perry when he joins his platoon, each person with their own reasons for being there. Perry forms bonds with many of them, specifically Peewee, a fellow soldier with upbeat humor despite the dire circumstances. Early into their deployment, the rigors of combat, loss of comrades, and the erosion of innocence become a grim reality for them, shaping their perception of the war and challenging their notions of heroism.

    The Conflicts Within War

    As Perry becomes more exposed to the terrifying realities of war in Fallen Angels, he begins to grapple with numerous internal and external conflicts. He questions the morality of war, struggles with the racial tensions within his platoon, and the leadership decisions that seem to prioritize personal ambitions over the soldiers' safety. Simultaneously, Perry deals with homesickness and the despair that shrouds him as he ponders his future and the chance of making it out alive.

    The graphic depiction of war with vivid scenery and action puts readers right in the middle of the battlefield, enforcing the grim truth that war doesn't distinguish between fallen enemies and fallen angels - the young men far from home, caught in a conflict they barely understand. The book presents the faceless enemy – the Viet Cong, as individuals similar to the American soldiers - young and stuck in the maze of war.

    Experiencing Loss and Maturity

    In Fallen Angels, the somber reality of loss is a recurring theme. The death of fellow soldiers thrusts the young men into a premature maturity. They are stripped of their boyish naivety and forced to confront their own mortality. Perry struggles to reconcile the nightmare of war with his pre-war dreams, and in turn, this imparts a tone of disillusionment and embittered maturity.

    Contradictory feelings of terror and exhilaration of survival underpin each combat, leaving Perry and his comrades lurching between hope and despair. The camaraderie, shared fear, and collective yearning for home knit these "fallen angels" together, making their bonds the brightest spots in their harrowing experience.

    The End in Sight

    As Perry's time in Vietnam draws to an end in Fallen Angels, the atrocious cycle of war, survival, and loss has left an indelible mark on him. A changed and battle-hardened Perry finally receives his ticket back home following a traumatic combat experience. The relief of survival is, however, tinged with the guilt of leaving his comrades behind and surviving when others didn't.

    In conclusion, Fallen Angels is a powerful, visceral portrayal of the Vietnam War, subverting the romanticized notions of war and heroism. Through the experiences of Perry and his fellow soldiers, readers are offered a moving, introspective exploration of fear, brotherhood, lost youth, and the fraught journey to maturity against the backdrop of war.

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    What is Fallen Angels about?

    Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers is a raw and honest portrayal of the Vietnam War through the eyes of a young soldier. It delves into the brutal realities of war, highlighting the physical and psychological toll it takes on individuals. With its compelling narrative and relatable characters, the book offers a poignant exploration of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

    Who should read Fallen Angels?

    • Readers interested in realistic depictions of the Vietnam War
    • Young adults who enjoy character-driven coming-of-age stories
    • Those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the emotional toll of war

    About the Author

    Walter Dean Myers was an acclaimed author whose works focused on the experiences of young African Americans. In addition to his numerous novels and short stories, Myers had a successful career as a poet, essayist, and playwright. Some of his notable works include Fallen Angels, Monster, and Hoops. Myers was a recipient of numerous awards, including the Michael L. Printz Award and the Coretta Scott King Award for his contribution to children's literature.

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