The main male character in The Fearless Man is Captain MacHugh Clare, skipper of Delta Company, who wisely lets his company gunnery sergeant, Gunny Hitchcock, execute his orders without interference.
Mac is (or is not) the fearless man of the title. His bonds with Hitchcock and with Paul Adrano, the chaplain, with Doc Bartholomew, Corporal Sedgwick, Lieutenant Dan Shaw, with Sergeant Graves (aka "Graves Registration") -- with his wife Sarah, who lives at Camp Lejeune -- these bonds twined together are his lifeline.
Mac's idea is not to survive but to lead Delta Company. When he thinks of Sarah she is all that is good and beautiful in his world. But he is still the commander of Delta Company, a twenty-four-hour duty and obsession. When a man dies, Mac feels himself going with him for the first few steps into oblivion. When his troops holler bloody murder in a firefight or cheer when the enemy is foolish enough, in the marines' view, to spring an ambush, Mac is elevated and vindicated in his admiration for his men.
The chaplain's idea is to confirm God. He believes He exists but has made Himself difficult to know. If the priest is tempted by a woman or by the solitary consolation he feels God's witnessing presence -- somewhere. He volunteered for the Navy and Vietnam because he is certain that the place to search is where the signs and symbols of hell predominate. "If I don't find Him here I'll not find him anyplace." This is too close to saying He doesn't exist. That is Paul's ordeal. He believes that in a just world God must exist. As a chaplain, a servant of the men, his idea is to learn whether the world is just, a hazardous quest for a man of faith.
The central drama of MacHugh Clare is the test of a leader. Can he win, and bring his men through? What's to be won or lost is not a football game. It has a much smaller audience. And within that audience of a very few stands one man, Mac himself.
The central drama of the chaplain, Paul Adrano, is the test of strength -- can he overcome the fear of battle? Can he resist the beauty of the nurse Rebecca Vanburen?
Donald Pfarrer was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V and the Purple Heart for his service in the Vietnam War. On returning from Vietnam Pfarrer covered the antiwar movement for "The Milwaukee Journal." He later wrote extensively for the paper on crime and politics. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the author of five novels. He is currently writing a novel about an adulterous love affair in wartime. His next project will be a novel within the legal system. More detail can be found at donaldpfarrer.com.
The Fearless Man
Man, Wife, War