Which branches of the military did Brinker and Gene choose, and why?
Brinker chooses the Coast Guard and Gene chooses the Navy (199). At first, Gene thinks that getting drafted might be the best decision for himself, but he explains to Mr. Hadley, Brinker's dad, that men are usually sent to the infantry and front lines when they are drafted. So, in order to avoid the front lines and a fox hole, Gene decides to sign up for the Navy which will place him as part of the war but not in the war. In other words, he won't be considered a coward if he goes and signs up for something safe even though he really is choosing not to be in the thick of the fighting. Brinker seems to feel the need to justify his choice as well by explaining to Mr. Hadley that "the Coast Guard does some rough stuff" too (199). One of the themes in the novel is dodging the war without seeming cowardly, and both boys seem to find a way to do exactly this. Mr. Hadley seems to represent the attitude that one should have when fighting for one's country; that is that one should be excited and willing to do whatever his country asks of him. However, the boys find a way to do both by making specific choices.