Fields of Fire Summary & Study Guide

James Webb
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Fields of Fire Summary & Study Guide Description

Fields of Fire Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Fields of Fire by James Webb.

It is the year 1969, and young men are becoming soldiers for different reasons. The Vietnam War was something hard to understand for most people. The men who fought in the war were either drafted or they signed up on their own accord. Snake, Hodges, and Senator are the three main characters of the story. There are several other characters throughout the story that they each encounter in one way or another.

Before enlisting in the service, Senator lived with his mother and father and attended Harvard. His father is a lawyer and his mother is a homemaker. When the draft swept through and took the young men to war, his friends found ways to dodge the draft, whether it was fleeing to Canada or taking pills to fail the draft physical. They all found ways, but Senator did not. He faced his future head on and took it like a man. He had no idea what he would be facing in Vietnam. His parents were very proud of him.

Snake enlisted in the service on his own accord. He lived with his mother and stepfather in a bad part of town. His life was never simple. He went from job to job after quitting high school and never knew what his future held for him. He was always fighting and getting into drugs. The one thing he was always good at was fighting. His mother told him that one day his temper would get him into trouble. One day he walked into a tattoo parlor and got another tattoo. His most recent tattoo had the words, "Death Before Dishonor". Right after getting the tattoo, he walked straight into the recruitment office and signed up for the Marines. He went to boot camp shortly after enlisting and was a big success. This was partly due to his rough upbringing and lack of showing emotion. The other men looked up to him for guidance. He thought he had finally found the career meant for him.

Hodges's reasons for enlisting were largely due to his ancestors, who had fought in every battle and war that came along. His father had died in a war before he was born and his mother kept his memories tucked away in a locker. The locker was kept in the barn outside of the house and Hodges learned early on how to crack it open and rummage through his father's memories. Hodges mother remarried and had two more children, but Hodges was the last of his line. His grandmother (his father's mother) lived nearby and he visited her every Sunday. They would sit and talk about the wars of yesterday and how brave his father was. She talked about all of the Hodges before him and how they also fought in battles for the betterment of America. This made him proud and also reminded him of what was in his blood. He was meant to fight in the battles, just as his ancestors before him.

Each of these men had their reasons to enlist. Each one had a different background and came together during the height of the Vietnam War. They go through a tremendous challenge together that brings them closer than any of them thought they could be. They are like a band of brothers and stick together through thick and thin. Their stomachs ache from seeing bloody, torn apart bodies at the light of each day, and they throw up at the sight. The barbed wire that surrounds the compound is filled with body fragments of the enemy. The Medevac comes for the wounded, but leaves the dead for the truck the next morning, which they fill with dead bodies for mass burials.

Each day they spend in the bush of Vietnam feels like an eternity. They have to wade through chest deep water crawling with leeches to get to their next destination. Once they arrive they cannot dry off, because of the constant rain. They eat cold C-rations and smoke cigarettes while they dig their holes for the night's battle. Once night comes, the battle ensues with the enemy firing all around them. They are in a strange land and the war is not like any other war. It's kill or be killed.

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