Theme of "Fallen Angels"

Page 1 of 2

Theme of "Fallen Angels"

By | April 2005
Page 1 of 2
Losing Innocence: "Fallen Angels" find the true meaning of war

"Fallen Angels", written by Walter Dean Myers, is a novel that tells about the story of young boys going into battle during the Vietnam War. There are many themes in "Fallen Angels" but the main theme is the loss of innocence. The title makes reference to these themes. And the boys in the book have dreams of losing their virginity and drinking alcohol for the first time. They are thrown into a harsh reality when they are shown the trials of war. In the end, they understand that the movies that depict heroicness and honor are just images of a false idea; that war is full of chaos and horror.

The title of "Fallen Angels" is the greatest indicator of the theme. All of the young soldiers are "angels" in the sense that they are naïve and innocent. This is explained in chapter four when Myers calls these young boys "angel warriors". They have not seen the terrible things that happen in war and therefore feel invincible to the danger they are to encounter. The "fallen" in the title indicates the loss of innocence that makes them "angels". Though losing innocence is something that every young person goes through, these boys must grow up fast during war.

Richie, the narrator and protagonist, and the members of his squad fantasize of their first sexual experiences. Peewee, a member of Richie's squad, even sets goals for himself. He says he will "drink wine from a corked bottle, smoke a cigar, and make love to a foreign woman. These are all immature ideas the boys have but they are soon taught that the real things that must focus on are not alcohol and sex, but the virtues and values they will learn as a soldier.

During their battles the squad sees that survival is not something that is taught but a matter of pure chance. They see their allies shooting allies. Their close friends in the war are killed and they must face the reality that getting out alive is luck. The goal of killing the enemy turns...