Going After Cacciato

Going After Cacciato

The medic and unofficial scientist of Paul Berlin’s battalion, Doc Peret is an intelligent, quick-thinking soldier who uses his intelligence and ingenuity to care for his patients. Peret is never shown to save anyone from dying—a grim demonstration of the Vietnam War’s lethality—but he’s successful in numbing the pain of those who are slowly dying, such as Bernie Lynn. Peret also proves himself to be quick under pressure when he bluffs his way through an interview with Captain Fahyi Rhallon in Tehran, saving himself and his fellow soldiers from being imprisoned for desertion.

Doc Peret Quotes in Going After Cacciato

The Going After Cacciato quotes below are all either spoken by Doc Peret or refer to Doc Peret. 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 22 Quotes

A few names were known in full, some in part, some not at all. No one cared. Except in clearly unreasonable cases, a soldier was generally called by the name he preferred, or by what he called himself, and no great effort was made to disentangle Christian names from surnames from nicknames. Stink Harris was known only as Stink Harris. If he had another name, no one knew it. Frenchie Tucker was Frenchie Tucker and nothing else. Some men came to the war with their names, others earned them. Buff won his name out of proven strength and patience and endurance. He had no first name and no last name, unless it was to call him Water Buffalo, a formality which was rare. Doc's name was so natural it went unnoticed; no one knew his first name and no one asked. What they were called was in some ways a measure of who they were, in other ways a measure of who they preferred to be. Cacciato, for example, was content to go by his family name; it was complete. Certain men carried no nicknames for the reverse of reasons that others did: because they refused them, because the nicknames did not stick, because no one cared.

Related Characters: Stink Harris, Cacciato, Doc Peret, Frenchie Tucker, Water Buffalo / Buff
Page Number: 145-146
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 29 Quotes

"There it is. The old man's suffering from an advanced case. Nostalgia, it comes from the Greek. I researched it: straight from the Greek. Algos means pain. Nostos means to return home. Nostalgia: the pain of returning home. And the ache that comes from thinking about it. See my drift? The old man's basic disease is homesickness. Nostalgia for the goddamned war, the army, the lifer's life. And the dysentery, the fever, it's just a symptom of the real sickness."
"So what do we do?"
"Time," Doc said. He put his glasses on. "It's the only antidote for nostalgia. Just give the man time."

Related Characters: Paul Berlin (speaker), Doc Peret (speaker), Lieutenant Corson
Page Number: 183-184
Explanation and Analysis:

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"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:

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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:

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Chapter 40 Quotes

Shrugging, glancing again into the mirror, the girl opened the door and stepped out. She watched while Oscar dumped out her suitcase and sleeping bag. She never stopped smiling.
Eddie drove, Oscar rode shotgun.
"You know," Doc said wistfully, "sometimes I do feel a little guilt."

Related Characters: Doc Peret (speaker), Oscar Johnson, Eddie Lazzutti
Page Number: 276
Explanation and Analysis:

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Doc Peret Character Timeline in Going After Cacciato

The timeline below shows where the character Doc Peret appears in Going After Cacciato. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...result, he barely realizes that Cacciato, one of his soldiers, has departed. A soldier named Doc Peret tells Corson that Cacciato has gone to Paris. Corson seems to understand what Doc... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...military term meaning “absent without leave”). Corson asks Berlin about Cacciato’s squad—which consists of Berlin, Doc, Eddie Lazzutti, Stink, Oscar, and Harold Murphy. Corson tells Berlin that this squad, squad three,... (full context)
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
As Corson studies the pages of Cacciato’s atlas, Doc suggests that they let Cacciato go ahead, rather than endanger their own lives by trying... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...night—around 4 AM—the soldiers, unable to sleep, sit around talking about Cacciato. Paul Berlin tells Doc Peret that he hopes Cacciato keeps moving and escapes from the army for good. (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
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...blood everywhere. Then, he imagines “a miracle”—Cacciato succeeding in walking to Paris. Berlin turns to Doc, and mentions that Cacciato “did some pretty brave things.” Doc nods, and mentions some of... (full context)
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Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
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...very dark, and Berlin fires a bright green flare into the sky. Back with Corson, Doc imagines that the soldiers are celebrating the New Year—1968, the Year of the Pig. (full context)
Chapter 2
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...China Sea, and it’s a little before midnight. Nearby, he sees other soldiers, such as Doc, Eddie, and Oscar, sleeping peacefully. (full context)
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...left unclear, and Berlin seems unable to wrap his mind around it. He thinks of Doc, who recently theorized a strange medical condition in Berlin: he has an “overabundance of biles.”... (full context)
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Despite Doc’s theories, Berlin is terrified. Berlin watches the waves crash on the beach below the tower,... (full context)
Chapter 3
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
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Doc studies his map and talks to Lieutenant Corson. He shows Corson the group’s progress: they’re... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
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...collapses. He’s been suffering from dysentery lately, and hasn’t been dealing with the march well. Doc examines Corson and concludes that “the old man’s had it.” The soldiers drag Corson to... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...meets the soldiers of his platoon, which are led by the buck sergeant, Oscar Johnson. Doc Peret is the medic. The platoon leader is Lieutenant Sidney Martin. While he is Lieutenant,... (full context)
Chapter 6
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
...the buffalo, the soldiers spend the night at the edge of the savannah. Eddie and Doc drag the buffalo off the road, leaving one buffalo for transportation. Then, the soldiers prepare... (full context)
Chapter 7
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
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...has spread very far. Berlin isn’t sure what to say. He explains that according to Doc, the war is over. Lieutenant Corson, on the other hand, believes that the war is... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...fort of Quang Ngai. The year is left unspecified. Berlin’s replacement as night watchman is Doc Peret, but Berlin does not wake him. Instead, he walks down from the fort and... (full context)
Chapter 9
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
...the middle of a battle scene. Lieutenant Sidney Martin has just commanded his soldiers—who include Doc, Rudy, Stink, Bernie Lynn, and Frenchie Tucker—to clear out a tunnel, and Frenchie has been... (full context)
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Doc tends to Frenchie, who has been shot “through the nose.” Doc gives Frenchie special painkillers... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The chapter opens shortly after the events of Chapter Seven. Doc is tending to Stink Harris’s injury: Stink has tried to capture Cacciato, and failed. Stink... (full context)
Chapter 11
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The chapter begins, well before the events of Chapter 1, with Doc Peret trying and failing to save the life of a wounded soldier, Jim Pederson. A... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...carrying a lighted match. Berlin finds that he can’t stop giggling—he’s nearly hysterical with fear. Doc Peret whispers for him to be quiet, but Berlin finds it difficult to stop laughing. (full context)
Chapter 16
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
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...that “the enemy” is very close by, waiting for them to let their guard down. Doc Peret compares the squad to a group of blindfolded children trying to pin the tail... (full context)
Chapter 18
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...all look there. Everyone drinks a toast to Harold Murphy, and to their memories together. Doc then proposes a toast to Lieutenant Corson—a man with, Doc claims, 25 years of combat... (full context)
Chapter 22
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Doc Peret is the soldiers’ resident scientist, and he has complicated ideas about everything. But he... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...and serves the men hamburgers—something very difficult to come by in India. Corson whispers to Doc Peret that Jolly is a “brave, remarkable woman.” (full context)
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Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
At the soldiers’ meal, Jolly Chand is cheerful. She asks Doc about medicine in the United States, and asks Stink about his family. Jolly is especially... (full context)
Chapter 24
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On the soldiers’ last day of stand-down, Eddie, Doc, Paul Berlin, and Oscar walk to the 82nd Commo Detachment, where the soldiers keep the... (full context)
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The next soldier to place a call is Doc, followed by Oscar. They both walk out of the soundproof rooms looking choked up, as... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...has a glass of cognac with Jolly Chand. Corson seems to be overcome with emotion. Doc Peret gently taps Corson’s shoulder and tells him that it’s time for the troops to... (full context)
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Doc leaves Corson and tells the troops that Corson isn’t coming. Some of the soldiers want... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...of Oscar’s marijuana. Lieutenant Corson gets very sick again, but it’s not clear exactly why. Doc tries to care for Corson, but lacks the proper medical equipment. He claims that Corson... (full context)
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...people. As the people begin to cheer, a van drives through the crowd, very slowly. Doc seems to understand what’s happening, and he tells Berlin to watch closely. A police officer... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...interrogating the soldiers. Rhallon seems remarkably polite, and he asks to see the soldiers’ passports. Doc is polite in return, and explains that none of the soldiers have passports. Doc continues... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
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...a bar that plays loud American music, and he orders beers for everyone. He asks Doc and Eddie to tell him about the war from which they’ve come. Doc replies that... (full context)
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
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Rhallon and Doc continue discussing the war in Vietnam. Doc insists that soldiers shouldn’t concern themselves with the... (full context)
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Rhallon asks Doc about his soldiers’ mission, and Doc explains that they’re traveling to Paris to hunt down... (full context)
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As the 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... (full context)
Chapter 30
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...and tries to explain how he came to witness a public beheading. He remembers something Doc Peret once told him: the human mind thinks in terms of cycles. For a long... (full context)
Chapter 31
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...about the death of Billy Boy Watkins, which has happened only a few days ago. Doc Peret—who isn’t Berlin’s friend yet—confirms that Billy Boy died of a heart attack. Berlin, who... (full context)
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...foot, but didn’t seem to hurt him at all—at least not at first. Berlin remembers Doc Peret telling Billy, “War’s over. That’s a million-dollar wound.” (full context)
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...rocked his head back and forth, seemingly unable to speak. Suddenly, his body went slack. Doc Peret touched Billy Boy’s chest, and checked for a pulse. He reported, with great surprise,... (full context)
Chapter 33
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
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...this time, Berlin is handcuffed and brought into a large room, along with Stink, Eddie, Doc, Oscar, and Corson. Sarkin is thrown into this room as well. She kisses Berlin’s throat.... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...his “friends” that they’ve been arrested for desertion. He produces a dossier, which says that Doc and his fellow soldiers do not have the legal right to travel through Tehran, as... (full context)
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Doc tries to explain his soldiers’ situation to Captain Rhallon: they are American infantry, assigned to... (full context)
Chapter 35
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...spending too much time fishing—if he’s not careful, he’ll catch cold, at least according to Doc Peret. (full context)
Chapter 36
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...shower stall where they’re washed and cleaned. Then they’re sent back to their cell. There, Doc and Oscar write letters, while most of the soldiers sleep. Paul Berlin can’t sleep—he stays... (full context)
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...drive for hours, until they reach “the sea.” Berlin murmurs “It can be done,” and Doc agrees with him. (full context)
Chapter 38
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...faces to photographs. Oscar concludes that the officers are looking for them. Stink swears, and Doc mutters, “We came so close.” Stink begs Oscar to think of something, but Oscar can... (full context)
Chapter 40
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
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...and the other soldiers drive her car away. As the girl recedes into the distance, Doc says, “sometimes I do feel a little guilt.” (full context)
Chapter 41
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After the helicopter takes Buff’s body away from the battlegrounds, Doc suggests that they look through Buff’s helmet—where he kept his most valuable items. Cacciato goes... (full context)
Chapter 43
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...no dream—“it’s all real.” The soldiers begin staying in a hotel near the Italian embassy. Doc points out that nobody will believe the soldiers’ story of tracking down Cacciato, unless they... (full context)
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...coward, and urges him to make up his mind immediately. Reluctantly, Berlin agrees to tell Doc and the others about his plans to live in an apartment with Sarkin. (full context)
Chapter 44
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
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...Paris, away from their hotel. Berlin asks the soldiers why they need to leave Paris. Doc explains that the hotel clerks have become suspicious about their claims to be American soldiers.... (full context)
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...suggests that the soldiers turn themselves in and explain their mission to hunt down Cacciato. Doc sighs and tells Berlin, “I pity you.” He explains that they would need evidence before... (full context)
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The chapter cuts ahead several hours. Berlin is explaining to Doc how he found Cacciato. He shows Doc a slip of paper on which he’s written... (full context)
Chapter 46
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The chapter opens with Doc announcing that “he” has “split.” As Berlin and Doc talk, it becomes clear that Doc... (full context)
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...his own troops to show them what poor soldiers they are. Oscar angrily tells Berlin, Doc, and Eddie that they’ll need to obey him at all costs. He also tells Berlin... (full context)
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...arrest Cacciato on the hill in Vietnam. Stink and Harold Murphy are still present, and Doc tells Berlin to relax—Berlin is suffering from “the biles” once again. Berlin, remembering what has... (full context)