The novel opens with Prewitt’s transfer from the Bugle Corps to G Company. Angry because he has been replaced as the number-one bugler, Prewitt requests a transfer, showing a rebellious pride which is to drive his action throughout the novel. The army private, however, has the misfortune of transferring into a company commanded by Captain Dana “Dynamite” Holmes, the regimental boxing coach.
Boxing plays an important part in the novel. Prewitt had been a boxer at one time—and a good one. One day, however, while sparring with a fellow enlisted man, he accidentally hit the man too hard, and, as a result of the injury, the man went into a coma. The fighter lived, but he lost his sight. This incident had a powerful impact on Prewitt, mainly because of a deathbed request by his mother, who asked him to “promise me you wont never hurt nobody unless its absolute a must, unless you jist have to do it.” Prewitt believed that by blinding his sparring partner, he had broken a deathbed promise—the most sacred of all promises. Prewitt does not tell anyone in the company why he will not box; he simply refuses the request to try out for the team. This stubbornness rankles Captain Holmes; to have his company win the regimental boxing championship would improve his chance of being promoted to major. Prewitt, a fine boxer, would almost assure G Company of the championship. The commander tries a form of bribery (all the company boxers get relieved from regular...
(The entire section is 571 words.)