Going After Cacciato

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Captain Fahyi Rhallon Character Analysis

The Iranian police officer who interrogates the soldiers on the suspicion that they’re deserters. Captain Fahyi Rhallon is a polite and civil man who nonetheless believes that deserters should be beheaded for their crimes. After Doc convinces him that the soldiers are in Iran legally, Rhallon takes them out for drinks, and explains that he believes that the war in Vietnam is being fought for immoral reasons. In later chapters, Rhallon arrests the soldiers a second time, and again arranges for their beheading, even while he claims to be doing everything he can to save their lives.

Captain Fahyi Rhallon Quotes in Going After Cacciato

The Going After Cacciato quotes below are all either spoken by Captain Fahyi Rhallon or refer to Captain Fahyi Rhallon . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Broadway Books edition of Going After Cacciato published in 1999.
Chapter 29 Quotes

"Yes," the captain said, "running is also what the soldier thinks of, yes? He thinks of it often. He imagines himself running from battle. Dropping his weapon and turning and running and running and running, and never looking back, just running and running. Soldiers think of this. I know it. Yes? It is the soldier's thought above other thoughts."
"And?"
The man touched his moustache and smiled. "And purpose is what keeps him from running. Without purpose men will run. They will act out their dreams, and they will run and run, like animals in stampede. It is purpose that keeps men at their posts to fight. Only purpose."

Related Characters: Doc Peret (speaker), Captain Fahyi Rhallon (speaker)
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

The soldiers, still in Tehran, cross paths with a suspicious young Iranian military officer, Captan Fahyi Rhallon. The Captain asks the soldiers how it's possible for them to be traveling through Tehran without passports. Doc claims that he and his friends are allowed to travel to track down Cacciato, due to some obscure stipulations of the Geneva Codes. It's not entirely clear if Rhallon buys Doc's explanation or not--i.e., if he's being serious or if he's toying with the troops.

Whether or not Rhallon is being sincere with the soldiers, his speech about running and "purpose" echoes the paradox of the soldiers' mission to track down Cacciato. As we know by now, the soldiers are certainly running from their active duty in Vietnam--going to Paris sounds much better than fighting and dying for no discernible cause, after all--and yet they're also on a mission on behalf of the U.S. military. In short, the soldiers are both loyal and disobedient to their commanders. Rhallon emphasizes purpose at the expense of freedom, yet the soldiers have found freedom from Vietnam because of the purpose their commanding officer has given them.

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Chapter 33 Quotes

There was great quiet. A very noisy quiet, Paul Berlin thought. He felt Oscar staring at him from across the room—a long, hard stare—as if to accuse. As if to say, Your fuckin dream, man. Now do something.
After a moment Doc Peret sighed. "Well," he said, "I guess it's time for some diplomatic pressure. By Uncle Sam, I mean. Time for Sammy to step in on our behalf."
The captain shook his head. "Sadly," he said, "that will not be possible. Certainly not productive. As I say, your government does not know you. Or chooses not to. In either case, I fear the outcome is the same."

Related Characters: Doc Peret (speaker), Captain Fahyi Rhallon (speaker), Paul Berlin , Oscar Johnson
Page Number: 228-229
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Captain Rhallon--newly suspicious of Berlin and his fellow troops traveling through Iran--has the troops arrested and sentenced to be executed. Rhallon is as calm as ever, but this time there's no ambiguity in the air of menace he gives off: he's going to let his new "friends" be killed. And this time, Doc's bluffs of knowledge and control don't work--Rhallon knows full-well that Doc is lying about traveling through the country via the Geneva Codes.

Even at this dark moment in the text, there's a strong element of fantasy. Oscar stares as Paul Berlin as if to reference Paul's "dream"--a clear reminder of the possibly fictional nature of the entire story (it's later suggested that Paul is dreaming his mission as he sits on the beach). Rhallon's words, for all their menace, have some truth in them: the soldiers' government doesn't care about them. In fact, the U.S. government sent its soldiers into Vietnam to die--the government wanted its men to further its own causes in Vietnam, not escape to Paris.

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Captain Fahyi Rhallon Character Timeline in Going After Cacciato

The timeline below shows where the character Captain Fahyi Rhallon appears in Going After Cacciato. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 29
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
...station, the soldiers are introduced to Sergeant Ulam—the officer who brought them in—and Captain Fahyi Rhallon, who will be interrogating the soldiers. Rhallon seems remarkably polite, and he asks to see... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Captain Rhallon takes the soldiers to a bar that plays loud American music, and he orders beers... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Rhallon and Doc continue discussing the war in Vietnam. Doc insists that soldiers shouldn’t concern themselves... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Rhallon asks Doc about his soldiers’ mission, and Doc explains that they’re traveling to Paris to... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
...other soldiers dance and argue, Paul Berlin dances with Sarkin. Berlin overhears Doc telling Captain Rhallon “the ultimate war story”—the story of how Billy Boy Watkins died. Berlin feels sick, and... (full context)
Chapter 33
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...new prison room, Berlin asks Oscar why they were arrested. Before Oscar can answer, Captain Rhallon walks through the door. He apologizes profusely for the soldiers’ arrest, but admits that he... (full context)
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Doc tries to explain his soldiers’ situation to Captain Rhallon: they are American infantry, assigned to capture a runaway soldier named Cacciato. Rhallon asks for... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
As Berlin waits for Rhallon’s help, he thinks back on his past. He played baseball games as a boy, and... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Shortly after the soldiers’ discussion with Captain Rhallon, they’re taken to a larger, more comfortable cell, which has sofas and rugs. They spend... (full context)