Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a stubborn man. He searches for confrontation, and, like his namesake in history, he idealistically stands by his principles. In the end, this stubbornness, this tenacity, brings him down to defeat. It is interesting that Prewitt chooses to transfer to “Dynamite” Holmes’s G Company, knowing that there he will be pressured into making the choice between boxing for his company or being ostracized. In essence, he sets up the conflict for himself. Rooted in the tradition of a lone strongman, the character Prewitt possesses a stubbornness to which he clings even as he faces death. If he had simply allowed himself to be arrested and returned to the stockade for his AWOL offense, Prewitt would not have been killed. If he had merely agreed to fight one time in the ring, he would have been spared “the treatment.” If, at the beginning of the novel, Prewitt had allowed himself to be demoted in the Bugle Corps, he could have continued to play the bugle—his one true love in life. Yet Prewitt steadfastly refuses to acquiesce. A paradoxical character, he claims to be a “30-year career Army man,” yet by this admission he sentences himself to a life which by its design squashes independent, uncompromising individuals.
Sergeant Milton Warden serves as a bridge between this structured army life and Prewitt’s need to rebel. As first sergeant of the company, Warden has a duty to carry out his commanding officer’s order to make life difficult...
(The entire section is 603 words.)