First Sergeant Quirt
First Sergeant Quirt, the company’s senior noncommissioned officer (NCO). He was Flagg’s senior NCO in China when the captain was enlisted, and they had a disagreement over a woman that continues decades later. Quirt is brutal and dangerously self-confident, and he steals Flagg’s girlfriend after decking a drunken Irishman. In spite of Flagg’s order, he refuses to marry the dishonored woman. At the battlefront, Quirt longs for action, so much so that he is seriously wounded in the foot and must return behind the lines. He escapes from the hospital and confronts Flagg. The two agree to a game of blackjack to decide their fate, but orders calling them back to the front force them to abandon their duel. Quirt serves as the essential soldier: a violent womanizer always ready to answer a call to arms.
Captain Flagg, the company commander. Formally a corporal and a veteran of duty in both China and Cuba, Flagg is an alcoholic, which gets him into considerable difficulties. He does, at least, have some compassion for his girlfriend, Charmaine, but it is frequently obscured by his drunken brawling, which leads to his imprisonment on a charge of attempted manslaughter at one point in the play. He is also keenly aware of Quirt’s abilities as a soldier, as well as Quirt’s desire to usurp his command. A particularly touching scene occurs in act 2, when Flagg comforts a shell-shocked...
(The entire section is 457 words.)