Lachlen (Lachie) McLachlen
Lachlen (Lachie) McLachlen (LO-kee), a twenty-one-year-old Scottish soldier fighting for the British in the Burmese campaign of World War II. Small, slightly built, feisty, proud, solitary, independent, and surly, Lachie was orphaned as a child, has no family or friends, and has never trusted or been friendly with anyone. He yearns for companionship but is afraid to open himself up to people for fear of being rejected and deserted. When a piece of shrapnel destroys one of his kidneys, leaving the remaining kidney defective, Lachie is doomed to die within six weeks. Unaware of his condition, Lachie is placed in the convalescent ward of a military hospital so he can have friends around him when he dies. Lachie is so suspicious and unfriendly at first, however, that the men of the ward must struggle to be kind and comforting. A surprise birthday party and the gift of a kilt touch him deeply, and he becomes gregarious, attempting to befriend all the men and proposing marriage to the attractive young nurse of the ward, Margaret. When he discovers that he is going to die, Lachie becomes angry again, accusing the men and Margaret of merely pitying him.
Yank, an American from the deep South, the putative leader of the men in the convalescent ward. In his late twenties, Yank stutters when he gets excited, and when he loses his temper he recites the books of the...
(The entire section is 517 words.)