The character of Matthew Gene Axelson / “Axe” in Lone Survivor from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Lone Survivor

Matthew Gene Axelson / “Axe” Character Analysis

Matthew Gene Axelson, or “Axe,” is one of the four Navy SEALs involved in Operation Redwing. He’s murdered in the “Battle of Murphy’s Ridge,” during which the SEALs fight off dozens of Taliban soldiers. Like his fellow SEALs, Axe is a highly competent, extremely tough soldier. Marcus Luttrell also describes Axe as a very intelligent, pragmatic thinker, who’s not afraid to do what is necessary under pressure. When the SEALs have to decide whether to kill the goatherds or not, Axe immediately argues that killing them is the only way to save their own lives—an argument that the other SEALs ultimately reject, arguably leading to Axe’s own death.

Matthew Gene Axelson / “Axe” Quotes in Lone Survivor

The Lone Survivor quotes below are all either spoken by Matthew Gene Axelson / “Axe” or refer to Matthew Gene Axelson / “Axe”. 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:
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown, and Company edition of Lone Survivor published in 2013.
Chapter 7 Quotes

Axe said firmly, "We're not murderers. No matter what we do. We're on active duty behind enemy lines, sent here by our senior commanders. We have a right to do everything we can to save our own lives. The military decision is obvious. To turn them loose would be wrong."

Related Characters: Matthew Gene Axelson / “Axe” (speaker), Marcus Luttrell
Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 8 Quotes

“You stay alive, Marcus. And tell Cindy I love her.”

Related Characters: Matthew Gene Axelson / “Axe” (speaker), Marcus Luttrell, Cindy
Page Number: 275
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 12 Quotes

Mostly I remember the laughter. "Jesus, you look awful," said Morgan. "Mom'll have a nervous breakdown when she sees you." It reminded me of what I'd said to Axe when he'd been fatally wounded on the mountain—"Hey, man, you're all fucked up."

Page Number: 423
Explanation and Analysis:
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Matthew Gene Axelson / “Axe” Character Timeline in Lone Survivor

The timeline below shows where the character Matthew Gene Axelson / “Axe” appears in Lone Survivor. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
...one of the bravest people Luttrell ever knew. Two of Luttrell’s other friends, Danny and Axe, died that same summer. Luttrell is writing this memoir in honor of Danny, Axe, and... (full context)
Chapter 1
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Ethics and the “Rules of Engagement” Theme Icon
...tradition and feared reputation” of the SEALs. The SEALs on Luttrell’s team include Matthew Gene Axelson, who everyone calls “Axe.” Luttrell’s twin brother Morgan is Axe’s best friend. Axe is an... (full context)
Chapter 6
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Luttrell, Mikey, Shane Patton, Matthew Axelson listen to their assignment. The biggest change is that Patton will be replaced by Petty... (full context)
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
...and the other SEALs prepare for their mission. As they board the helicopter, Luttrell, Mikey, Axe, and Danny all sense that something’s wrong. (full context)
Chapter 7
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
...cast by tall trees in the distance. They proceed down the mountain, led by Matthew Axelson, the best mountaineer of the group. Axelson leads the SEALs down an especially steep part... (full context)
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Ethics and the “Rules of Engagement” Theme Icon
Axe believes the right thing to do would be to kill the goatherds. Danny says, “I... (full context)
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Ethics and the “Rules of Engagement” Theme Icon
...of 1) or 2), Mikey maintains, they’ll probably be charged with murder in Afghanistan. Then, Axe says, “We’re not murderers. No matter what we do”—suggesting that to kill the goatherds and... (full context)
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
Axe appears beside Luttrell and Mikey, having rolled down the mountain the same way as Luttrell.... (full context)
Chapter 8
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
In the middle of the shoot-out with the Taliban, Mikey shouts, “Fall back!” Right away, Axe and Luttrell jump down the mountain, while Mikey and Danny provide cover. Luttrell and Axe... (full context)
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Luttrell and Axe shoot back at the Taliban. There are at least eighty soldiers rushing toward them. Danny... (full context)
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
...in the distance—the SEALs are even more badly outnumbered than they’d thought. A bullet hits Axe in the chest, and his rifle falls to the ground. But then he picks up... (full context)
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
...and screams out in pain. Then, very abruptly, he falls silent—he’s dead, as is Danny. Axe is losing blood fast—within a few minutes, he’ll probably be dead too. He says, “You... (full context)
Chapter 12
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
...the Ranger captain a full debriefing on his situation. He learns that Mikey, Danny, and Axe’s bodies haven’t been found. When Luttrell talks about his fight with the Taliban soldiers, he... (full context)
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
In the coming days, the troops recover the bodies of Mikey and Danny (Axe is yet to be found). Luttrell will always remember Mikey as a proud, brave, funny... (full context)
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
Shortly afterwards, the military recovers Axe’s body. It’s discovered that he had only one round of ammunition left—two fewer than he... (full context)
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
...and Luttrell summons the courage to tell Morgan about the death of Morgan’s best friend, Axe. Morgan weeps when he learns how Axe died. (full context)
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
...the SEALs’ hometowns under special circumstances. For the SEALs who hail from small towns, as Axe does, the town itself is effectively closed down: the streets are closed to make way... (full context)