Chapter 10 Summary
In Chapter 10, a third-person chapter, Frank boards yet another train. As he sits looking out the window, he thinks about Mike, his boyhood friend from Lotus, who died in his arms in Korea. As Mike died, he said, “Don’t tell Mama.” Frank did not think that these dying words were very manly. When he talked about the death with their mutual friend, Stuff, Frank lied and claimed that Mike died saying, “Kill the fuckers.”
The death of Mike shook Frank badly. Previously, he had always followed orders on the battlefield, but he had never acted especially brave. Now he got reckless with his own life. But it was his other friend, Stuff, who died. Stuff's arm was blown off, and he bled to death before the medics arrived. Frank found the arm on the other side of the field and loaded it onto Stuff’s stretcher when the medics carried him away.
For a long time after these deaths, Frank found it hard to believe that the boys who knew him best could be gone. Sometimes he forgot that they were not there. More than once he embarrassed himself by turning to the empty air to repeat a joke he knew one of them would like. After Frank was discharged, he occasionally thought he saw Mike or Stuff in the city.
Now, riding the train to Atlanta, Frank realizes that the deaths he witnessed in Korea no longer “crush him.” He can remember his friends, and he can remember the yum-yum girl, without falling apart. In the past, he always reached for liquor when he thought of them, but he does not need to do that anymore.
The train stops for a repair, and Frank steps off to stretch his legs. He buys a Dr. Pepper and stands outside drinking it. He hears he sound of a woman screaming and goes to see if she needs help. He finds two women, prostitutes, rolling and punching at each other. A big man, their pimp, stands leaning against a big car, watching. The pimp is rude to Frank, and they get into a fight. As Frank beats the pimp badly, the two prostitutes give up their fight and shout at him to stop.
Afterward, Frank returns to the train and cleans up. The fight has filled him with joy, and he does not know why. Violence has never made him feel this way before. He tells himself to hold onto the feeling; he may need to fight again to save his sister.