Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 444

The characters of "Facing It" are:

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The Speaker. He is evidently an African American veteran of the Vietnam War.

The Deceased Veterans. Of the names of these 58,022 on the wall, the speaker singles out one of them, Andrew Johnson. It's not clear if he has chosen that name randomly, or if it's a man he knew. Perhaps it's mentioned simply because it's a normal, average name; or perhaps because it is coincidentally the name of a former president who presided over the country in the years after a different war.

A white veteran who has lost an arm. One can't be sure if the man is present at the Memorial or is being reimagined from the dark past of the war. His image "floats" closer to the speaker, and we're told the man has lost his arm inside the stone of the monument.

A woman also in attendance. At first the speaker imagines her attempting to "erase" names on the monument, but then realizes all she's trying to do is brush a boy's hair.

These characters themselves are both part of the wall and not part of it. Their reflections, like the speaker's, are present before him and have a dual meaning, as if they have an existence that is part of the war and one independent of it. This, one could argue, is a metaphor of the particular conditions of the home front in relation to Vietnam.

It could be argued that more than other wars in which the US had participated to that time, Vietnam was one from which the average civilian was disconnected. In Born on the Fourth of July Ron Kovic's friend Stevie Boyer tells him, after Ron has returned home...

(The entire section contains 444 words.)

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