In the Lake of the Woods

In the Lake of the Woods

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Lieutenant William “Rusty” Calley Character Analysis

A young American lieutenant who orders the troops under his command to murder innocent Vietnamese villagers, including women and children, at Thuan Yen. Calley is the only soldier who doesn’t show any signs of guilt for his actions, and later tries to intimidate his troops into keeping silent about the acts of murder they’ve committed. Calley is the only soldier ever convicted for his role in the My Lai massacre.
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Lieutenant William “Rusty” Calley Character Timeline in In the Lake of the Woods

The timeline below shows where the character Lieutenant William “Rusty” Calley appears in In the Lake of the Woods. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13: The Nature of the Beast
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...Sorcerer—privately thinks that the war has become his state of mind. A soldier named Rusty Calley mentions the Biblical principle of “eyeballs for eyeballs.” (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...mine blows up a soldier, killing him. Shortly thereafter other soldiers die to booby traps. Calley shouts for the soldiers to “Kill Nam,” and they shoot the grass and trees. (full context)
Chapter 16: Evidence
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...to another list of evidence. The first piece of evidence is a transcript of Rusty Calley’s court-martial, in which he says that he used a hand grenade to “evacuate” people. More... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
...was destroyed long before “it” destroyed him. Other soldiers in Vietnam claim not to remember “it”—Calley, for instance, can’t recall how many dead bodies he saw in a ditch, though Paul... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Dennis Conti, another soldier at My Lai, testifies in a court-martial that Calley ordered other men to shoot dozens of women and children, even after the soldiers had... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Nature of the Spirit
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...world to Sorcerer, and observes, “Fuckers just don’t die.” The soldiers are mostly silent, although Calley is talkative, saying that “gooks are gooks.” When Calley claims that the operation in My... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
The sight of flies and dead bodies makes many of the soldiers physically sick. Calley, who isn’t sick at all, asks his soldiers, intimidatingly, if they’ve heard any rumors that... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...head exploding, and thinks that the villagers are gradually merging into one huge, bloody mass. Calley laughs and makes wisecracks about the mess, and other soldiers cry, urinate, and resume firing... (full context)
Chapter 25: Evidence
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...because they were in pain and already dying. The article also notes that Lieutenant William Calley was the only man every convicted in the My Lai massacre. (full context)
Chapter 26: The Nature of the Dark
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
All the soldiers who fought in Vietnam were young: Calley was 24, T’Souza was 19, Thinbill was 18, Sorcerer was 23, etc. After the massacre... (full context)