Matterhorn

by Karl Marlantes

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Discuss the theme of brotherhood in Matterhorn.

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In Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes, the concept of fraternity is explored amidst the jungles of Vietnam. The title refers to the code name for a section in Vietnam where a platoon, Bravo Company, is positioned for an artillery operation. As with street gangs, secret societies, and criminal organizations, the military emphasizes unity and cultivating a sense of brotherhood with fellow members.

However, in Matterhorn, it is illustrated that brotherhood is more bulletproof and achievable in theory than in practice. For instance, throughout the novel, we see examples of favoritism among the high-ranking officers. There are secret alliances among personal friends which affect the morality of the other soldiers.

The most prominent example of this is when an African American soldier, Mallory, suffers from constant severe migraines. He appeals to the officers for a medical leave, but his superiors—particularly First Lieutenant Fitch and Second Lieutenant Hawke—believe he is just acting up. They opine that Mallory is lazy and consequently decline his repeated requests.

This creates animosity between the black soldiers in the platoon and some of the high-ranking officers. These tense and complex dynamics within the military hierarchy show that "brotherhood" is a fluid concept.

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