"Looking out toward the river, he knew for a fact that he had made a mistake setting up here. The order had come from higher, true, but still he should've exercised some field discretion. He should've moved to higher ground for the night, should've radioed in false coordinates. There was nothing he could do now, but still it was a mistake and a hideous waste. He felt sick about it. Standing in the deep waters of the field, First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross began composing a letter in his head to the kid's father, not mentioning the shit field, just saying what a fine soldier Kiowa had been, what a fine human being, and how he was the kind of son that any father could be proud of forever."
I liked this passage because it really shows the guilt that is weighing down on Cross. Throughout the chapter it can be seen that other characters are also placing the blame on themselves. Bowker feels responsible because he feels that he could have saved Kiowa, but he didn't. The soldier, whose name escaped Cross, believed that it was his fault because he thought that turning on the flashlight might have alerted the enemy of their presence. He might have caused the mortar fire. Even Azar feels bad about making jokes about Kiowa's death. He somehow feels that the jokes could have contributed to Kiowa's death. Sanders seems to be the only one who focuses blame outward. He believes that it was Cross' incompetence as a leader that caused Kiowa's death. Bowker, felling the weight of his own guilt, defends Cross' actions. This chapter shows how people tend to place blame on themselves, even when the blame should be shared.
1. When first thinking about what he is going to put in the letter to Kiowa's father, Cross wants to take full responsibility for what happened to Kiowa. Why does Cross later decide not to apologies in the letter?
2. Why does Azar help Tim even though he thinks that his motivations are pathetic?
3. Why does Tim decide to visit Vietnam after the war?