Two qualities distinguish Sergeant Sterling from other soldiers: his bravery and his selflessness. Characterized by a willingness to sacrifice his entire being to military duty and the necessity of war, Sterling is also deeply devoted to protecting the men under his authority, including Bartle and Murph. Although he occasionally seems cruel or overly aggressive in battle, these are attitudes he consciously adopts to survive and ensure the soldiers’ success. At the same time, his brutality does extend beyond the war, as he viciously attacks a vulnerable bartender in Germany, suggesting that violence might be a way for him to cope with the physical and psychological stress of war. Sterling also reveals his sensitive nature through some of his actions, such as his suicide, which suggests that he was perhaps more emotionally vulnerable than he allowed people to witness.