Fields of Fire Book Review
American History, Period 1
Fields of Fire
2013 February 22
Review of Fields of Fire Fields of Fire by James Webb is a historical novel first published in 1978 that takes place in the year 1969 during the Vietnam War. Although there are many characters that are significant to the story, the novel focuses mainly on three marines who find themselves in a platoon with each other; Robert E. Lee Hodges, “Snake,” and Will “Senator” Goodrich. Webb gives the reader a great, detailed background of each of these characters through a combination of both direct and indirect characterization. As the novel progresses, major events that occur include battle and violence, loss and coping, and learning. The themes that naturally
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Shortly after Hodges arrives in Vietnam, he is put straight into the action as a platoon leader where he shows his natural ability as a powerful, but still likeable, military leader. “Snake” primarily depicts the lack of real purpose for fighting. Being a man with little purpose in life before enlisting, Snake is easily shown without purpose in Vietnam. He recovers from the loss of fellow squad members quickly and easily and does not have reason to be in Vietnam, except to escape his less than satisfactory life back home. Will “Senator” Goodrich enlists in the United States Marine Corps under the false expectation of being a part of the Marine Band, and ends up being put into the field of battle instead. As a young, scholarly student that grew up in a middle-class home, Senator is wildly unprepared for what he finds in Vietnam, which helps him to easily portray the effects of war on humans. Senator is scared and sensitive, so he is the first one to whimper or cry in times of danger and is affected the most when he sees other squad member ripped apart by shrapnel. The psychological effects from the Vietnam War, which persist for the remainder of a soldier’s lifetime, are portrayed through Senator. The main themes of Fields of Fire are embodied and portrayed through these three main characters.
The writing style that James Webb uses is a significant factor in the experience of reading the novel. Webb uses a third-person point of view that moves from