The title of the novel Fallen Angels immediately emphasizes the theme of youth and innocence. As Lieutenant Carrol] explains in Chapter 4, all soldiers are "angel warriors," because the soldiers are still young boys and still as innocent as angels. In calling the novel Fallen Angels, Myers implies that the soldiers' youth and innocence are more important than any of their other aspects, such as their religion, ethnicity, class, or race. The novel is first and foremost a tale of the lost innocence of a squad of soldiers in the Vietnam War. Richie is only seventeen when he enters Vietnam, and Peewee and the other members of the squad are also teenagersPeewee is unable even to grow a mustache. His three life goals, immaturely, are to drink wine from a corked bottle, to smoke a cigar, and to make love to a foreign woman. Richie and Lobel are both virgins, and they fantasize endlessly about their first sexual experiencesThough the soldiers enter the war as naive youths, the war quickly changes them and forces them to develop into young men. Surrounded by death, they are forced to contemplate the fragility of their own lives and stripped of the carelessness and brazenness of youth. The unspeakable horrors around the boys force them to contemplate a world that does not conform to their childish and simplistic notions. Where they want to see only a separation between right and wrong, they instead find moral ambiguity. Where they want to see order and meaning, they find only chaos and senselessness. Where they want to find heroism, they find only the selfish instinct of self-preservation. These realizations destroy the boys' innocence, prematurely thrusting them into manhood.
The Unromantic Reality of War
Like all the other soldiers in Fallen Angels, Richie joins the army with illusions about what war is like. Like many American civilians, he has learned about war from movies and stories that portray battle as heroic and glorious, the army as efficient and organized,...
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