Many characters contribute to the developments in the novel. While some are encountered throughout the book, others only appear briefly. Here is a comprehensive character list:
Tim O’Brien: The Narrator
This is the narrator in the story. He is also the main protagonist. The character tries to justify why he was part of the soldiers that participated in the war in Vietnam by saying he felt he was part of his obligations in the country.
Additionally, he does not want his family to be a subject of embarrassing conversations. At the end of the war, he uses his storytelling prowess to narrate the things that took place during the war, including the accounts of the deaths. He also talks of the enemy soldier that he killed.
Rat Kiley: The Physician
He is the medic attached to the Alpha Company. Because of his ability to treat the wounds these soldiers get in the process of the war, he commands much respect. His ability to work under pressure from the war is also commendable. However, he shoots himself in the foot so that he can be removed from the combat situations
The Calm Kiowa
He is a close friend of O’Brien. He manages to keep his composure despite the various happenings in the war front. Kiowa dies when the platoon mistakenly turns a sewage field into their camping point. A lot is said about him after death.
Jimmy Cross: The Lieutenant
He was the lieutenant of the platoon that O’Brien was part of. Cross was the overall leader of the other soldiers and directed the things they did. Though he had good intentions, he is not sure of how the platoon should be led. Cross feels that his obsession with the pebble he received from Martha is what led to the death of Kiowa and ted. That makes him feel guilty.
The Cruel Azar
Azar makes fun of the injured. He appears sympathetic he tries to remove Kiowa’s body from the sewage. It is seen that he only uses cruelty as a defense mechanism.
The Fatherly Mitchell Sanders
Sander was a soldier who was loved by the others. He comes out as someone with fatherly qualities, given that he was devoted to his duties is just in his dealings. They do not agree with O’Brien in the way war stories should be told; he has a huge influence on how O’Brien tells his story.
Norman Bowker: A Heartbreaking Character
Norman is an embodiment of the negative effect war can have on a soldier. The effect of the battlefield can be seen in him long after the war is over. Kiowa’s death affects him the most.
The Simple Henry Dobbins
This character loves simplicity. As a ritual, he wraps his girlfriend’s stocking around his neck with the belief that it keeps him safe. Though he is involved in dangerous missions, he is not hurt during the war.
Mary Anne Bell
She is Mark Fossie’s sweetheart right from the high school days. Mary arrives in Vietnam innocent but is transformed into someone that loves wars and guns. They finally break up.
The Careless Curt Lemon
The other members of the platoon view him as childish and careless. O’Brien does not like his careless approach in war. Curt fears the dentist and eventually dies. The death is caused by a rigged mortar that he carelessly stepped on.
Cowardly Ted Lavender
Ted is a member of the platoon that fears a lot. To keep himself calm in the war situation, Lavender used tranquilizers. He is the very first soldier to meet his death. Ted only appears briefly in the whole story.
He is involved in a fist fight with Dave because of a jackknife. As a result, he ends up with a broken nose. Lee Opts out of the agreement with Dave that any of them should be killed if badly injured. He is badly injured during an attack and dies.
Dave breaks his nose as a punishment for injuring Lee in a fight. This makes the two of them even. Dave is relieved after Lee’s death because it prevents him from feeling guilty because of the pact they made.
Bobby Jorgenson the Doctor
Bobby replaces Kiley as the new platoon’s medic. Due to his lack of composure, he almost makes O’Brien die from a gun wound. O’Brien later forgives him for that.
The owner of the lodge where O’Brien made his final decision to be part of the platoon that went to Vietnam. He acts as a father figure to O’Brien. Elroy is described as a kind person.
Mark takes his girlfriend to the war in Vietnam. With time, the girl learns how to fight now loves the war situation. They break up never to see each other again.