The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel Characters

David Rabe

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Pavlo Hummel

Pavlo Hummel, an army private and medic during the Vietnam War. Pavlo has red hair and green eyes, is five feet, ten inches tall, and weighs 152 pounds. Estranged from his family, Pavlo has had his name legally changed from Michael to spite the father whose identity he has never known. He worries about whether to hug his mother when he returns home. Although he grew up in New York City, Pavlo is inexperienced and innocent; his street-smart persona is an act, and the other men see through it easily. Neurotically obsessed with the impression others have of him, Pavlo lies about his sexual exploits and his experiences in crime. He claims to have stolen twenty-three cars and to have had an uncle who was executed at San Quentin prison for killing four people. He never suspects or realizes that the other men know he is lying and that they are laughing at him. Pavlo thinks that he can win friends by being a good soldier, so he resorts to flattering sergeants and volunteering for difficult tasks. When he realizes that no number of push-ups will win the friendship and respect he craves, Pavlo swallows one hundred aspirin, but he is saved by the squad leader, Pierce. Pavlo is determined to prove himself in the infantry, but he is assigned to be a medic. He follows his orders to the letter but is ashamed of his job and repeatedly asks to be transferred to the battlefield. At one point, Pavlo talks Sergeant Brisbey out of committing suicide, but his efforts lack sincerity. Parham is wounded by Vietcong and cries out for Pavlo’s help while Pavlo is asking for transfer. Pavlo carries Parham’s body to safety, more out of a desire to impress others with his bravery than out of any concern for Parham. Finally, Pavlo is assigned to the fighting. He is wounded three times and earns the Purple Heart before he wants out, but...

(The entire section is 752 words.)


(Drama for Students)

An African American soldier in a "strangely unreal'' uniform who functions as Pavlo's alter-ego throughout the play. Only...

(The entire section is 1242 words.)