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Written by Walter Dean Myers in 1988, Fallen Angels, is a youth-adult novel about the Vietnam War. The author presented the notion that war is full of chaos and horror. The author demonstrated the idea of how war can contribute to the loss of innocence. The moral ambiguity of war is one the major aspect of this novel which alters the mentality of individuals. Individuals are poised to sacrifice their lives for their nation and their tradition, regardless of focusing on its bitter truth. War is not full of heroic notions, but rather chaos and horror.
War has a critical aspect for someone’s life as it results in loss of innocence. The author demonstrated the concept that every soldier is like an “angel warrior”. The evil minds of politicians and government agents eventually destroy the original identity and innocence of soldiers. “My father used to call all soldiers, angel warriors. Because usually they get boys to fight wars. Most of you aren’t old enough to vote yet” (Myers 44). The author critically illustrated the idea that political powers always use youngsters for their dirty work. These youngsters are pure and innocent just like an angel. The tragedy of war is cruel for each and every person.
The purity of heart and innocence nature of young worriers vanished in the war of Vietnam. The author critically illustrated about the innocent dreams of young soldiers in this novel. According to the author, one of the soldiers had only three ultimate goals in his life. He wanted to smoke a cigar, drink from a corked bottle, and show affection towards a foreign woman. However, all these innocent desires of soldiers were ended when the war forces them to become mature (Gill). The carelessness of youth disappeared from their nature after witnessing the horrifying reality of war (Helen and Bean). The author demonstrated that the fear of death makes the soldiers absurd about other’s life.
A large number of soldiers joined the army with illusions about war. Movies have altered our perception of war and fight. Everyone is imagining and portraying war as glorious. The author illustrated that every young soldier in the war wants fame and glory, but they were unaware of its bitter reality. “People were not supposed to be made like that. People were not supposed to be twisted bone and tubes that popped out at crazy kid's-toy angles” (Myers 84). All the illusions about the war vanished when young soldiers witness horrific things (May). The author demonstrated that there is no romanticized version of war.
The crucial circumstances in war make everyone worried about their future. In this novel, the majority of young soldiers such as, Perry, began to understand the reality of war. They joined the war to make a secure future for themselves and for their country. However, they began to visualize their future as a blank space. “I wished I had a wife and kids. I mean I really wished I had a wife and kids, somebody somewhere that loved me in a way I could look forward to going back to the World to” (Myers chapter 20, sentence 61). When the youngsters looked at their future, they were completely depressed. They wished for a heroic life, but they were trapped in the evil scheme of politicians.
The romantic reality of war vanished due to a fallible and inefficient army. The author critically demonstrated the idea that war is not as simple as it looks on television. During a war, there is no time for the organization of the army (Chevalier). Every romanticized dream of soldiers was scattered when they had no other choice than to act carelessly in the war. "It wasn’t real. None of it was real. The only thing that was real was me and Peewee, sitting in this spider’s grave, waiting for death" (Myers 289). It was a nightmare for these soldiers as they were certain about their death. They knew that they could not escape from this chaos and horror.
War changes a person to his very core. The young soldiers who participated in the war of Vietnam soon understood that their lives are going to be completely different. “I knew Mama loved me, but I also knew when I got back, she would expect me to be the same person, but it could never happen” (Myers 267). Regardless of the desires of soldiers to show heroism, they attempted to prepare themselves for their possible death (Goodson). The portrayal of a mother in this quotation can also be referred to like the society of America. The soldiers were aware that the society expects them to be brave. However, it was never going to happen due to the deadly circumstances of war.
To conclude the above discussion, wars evidently lead towards chaos and horror. The illusions about war dramatically change after a person finds himself/herself inside a battlefield. The romantic reality of war can only be found in books and televisions. A critical examination of the Fallen Angels reveals the bitter reality of war. War is so cruel that it can modify a person and numbs their senses. The myth and reality of war makes everyone think about their decision to be a part of such cruel activity. The evil dreams of politicians and dictators often contribute to dreadful and corrupt consequences.
Harper, Helen J., and Thomas W. Bean. "Fallen angels: Finding adolescents and adolescent literacy in a renewed project of democratic citizenship." Reconceptualizing the literacies in adolescents’ lives (2006): 147-160.
Chevalier, Tracy. Falling Angels: A Novel. Penguin, 2002.
Goodson, Lori Atkins. "Walter Dean Myers: A Monster of a Voice for Young Adults." (2008).
May, Jill P. "Walter Dean Myers: Social Realism in Contemporary Novels for Young Adults." First Opinions, Second Reactions 1.2 (2008): 4.
Gill, Sam D. "Young adult literature for young adult males." YOUNG 26.2 (1999).
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