The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel

by David Rabe

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Analyze the following quotation from The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel by David Rabe in relation to its meaning and historical aspects.

PAVLO: Listen , I don’t have too much time, I got to go pretty soon. How long you gonna be talkin’ shit to that poor girl? I mean, see, she is the whore I usually hit on. I’am little anxious, I’d like to interrupt you, you gonna be at her all fucking’ night. I’ll bring her back in half an hour.

SERGEANT WALL: Sorry about that. Sorry.

PAVLO: I didn’t ask you you was sorry.

SERGEANT WALL: This little girl’s my girl.

PAVLO: She’s a whore man.

SERGEANT WALL: we got a deal, see, see; when I’m here, she stays with me.

PAVLO: You got a deal huh?

SERGEANT WALL: You guessed it, PFC.

PAVLO: Well, maybe you shoulda checked with me, you shoulda conferred with me maybe before you figured that deal was sound. (Rabe, 83)

Expert Answers

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The quoted portion of the play is significant because it precedes the fatal actions that Sergeant Wall takes which result in Pavlo Hummel losing his life. The lines show some significant aspects of the conflict between Pavlo and the sergeant. The portion also shows the men's attitudes toward the Vietnamese woman in the brothel.

The play is primarily about Pavlo's experiences as he enters the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. His unhappiness about serving only makes his situation worse. He is unpopular with his fellow soldiers and quickly establishes a reputation as a troublemaker. This in turn compounds the problems further as he has few places to turn.

Although the prostitutes at the brothel seem to be primarily providing sexual relations, it also serves as a temporary refuge for Pavlo, as he "usually" seeks out Yen. The argument with the sergeant shows that this place is no safer than anywhere else. In fact, Pavlo dies there. The angry sergeant kills him from outside by throwing a grenade in through the window. His death and the war both seem meaningless.

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