A Rumor of War

A Rumor of War

by

Philip Caputo

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Lance Corporal James Bryce Character Analysis

A tall, quiet man from Kansas. Something seems to be “preying” on Bryce’s mind, but he keeps it to himself, and Caputo does not hear Bryce “speak more than a few dozen words” during the whole time that they know each other. When their C-130 takes off from Okinawa, heading to Vietnam, Caputo watches Bryce sleep. His utter stillness and half-open mouth are “a prefiguration of the death that would be his six months later.” In July 1965, Bryce is killed by a grenade. Caputo later helps to identify Bryce’s body after Corporal Gunderson brings it in, along with the bodies of PFC Peter Devlin and PFC Lockhart. Caputo notices “the nakedness of Bryce’s left calf bone.” He sees that every bit of flesh and muscle has been stripped from it, causing the splintered bone to look “like a broken ivory stick.” Gunderson says that they found his boot with the foot still in it.

Lance Corporal James Bryce Quotes in A Rumor of War

The A Rumor of War quotes below are all either spoken by Lance Corporal James Bryce or refer to Lance Corporal James Bryce. 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:
Heroism and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Owl Books edition of A Rumor of War published in 1977.
Chapter Twelve Quotes

That night, I was given command of a new platoon. They stood in formation in the rain, three ranks deep. I stood front and center, facing them. Devlin, Lockhart, and Bryce were in the first rank, Bryce standing on his one good leg, next to him the faceless Devlin, and then Lockhart with his bruised eye sockets bulging. Sullivan was there, too, and Reasoner and all the others, all of them except me, the officer in charge of the dead. I was the only one alive and whole, and when I commanded […] they faced right, slung their rifles, and began to march. They marched along, my platoon of crippled corpses, hopping along on the stumps of their legs, swinging the stumps of their arms, keeping perfect time while I counted cadence. I was proud of them, disciplined soldiers to and beyond the end. They stayed in step even in death.

Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lance Corporal James Bryce Character Timeline in A Rumor of War

The timeline below shows where the character Lance Corporal James Bryce appears in A Rumor of War. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Three
Heroism and Identity Theme Icon
Loyalty and Camaraderie Theme Icon
Danger and Uncertainty Theme Icon
...for take-off. The ride across the China Sea lasts for five hours. Caputo watches James Bryce sleep. His stillness and half-open mouth are “a prefiguration of the death that would be... (full context)
Chapter Twelve
Heroism and Identity Theme Icon
The Morality of War Theme Icon
Loyalty and Camaraderie Theme Icon
War and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...went to the hospital to identify three marines from his old platoon, Devlin, Lockhart, and Bryce. All three were blown up in a listening-post bunker ahead of C Company’s lines. Corporal... (full context)
Heroism and Identity Theme Icon
Loyalty and Camaraderie Theme Icon
War and Disillusionment Theme Icon
That night, in a dream, Caputo is given command of a new platoon. Devlin, Bryce, and Lockhart are in the first of three ranks. Sullivan and Frank Reasoner, another deceased... (full context)