With the Old Breed

by

E.B. Sledge

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Company K’s mortar section leader on Okinawa is a young man who has recently graduated from an Ivy League college and officer training. Although Sledge recognizes this as evidence of Mac’s intelligence, Mac ultimately proves arrogant and incompetent in actual combat. Behaving with no apparent understanding of the life-and-death gravity of war, he often puts his own fighters in danger through his own mistakes and reckless deeds. In addition, he takes part in disgusting acts of gratuitous cruelty, as he insists on peeing in the mouth of any dead Japanese soldier he encounters—which strikes Sledge as the most revolting action he ever sees a Marine perform during the war. Because of Mac’s behavior, the men in Company K despise him and feel ashamed to have them as a leader, as they believe that he does not represent the dignified attitude of the Marine Corps.
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Mac Character Timeline in With the Old Breed

The timeline below shows where the character Mac appears in With the Old Breed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 7: Rest and Rehabilitation
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Training intensifies over the weeks and Company K discovers that their new mortar section leader, Mac, is a New Englander who has just graduated from an Ivy League college. Sledge notes... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9: Stay of Execution
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Sledge is grateful for patrol sergeant’s Burgin’s presence, as he mistrusts Mac’s orders. One day, Sledge forms part of a group that will patrol the spot where... (full context)
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...it must be an ambush. Scrambling back toward where the shots came from, they see Mac standing over the carcass of a dead animal. He is shooting it in the jaw... (full context)
Death, Horror, and Trauma Theme Icon
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Sledge explains that Mac is not incompetent, but does not understand the gravity of war. Although Mac has successfully... (full context)
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...this new, dangerous assignment, the men are enjoying a last meal around a fire when Mac suddenly yells “Grenade!” and the men all crouch. Sledge sees Mac throw the grenade, which... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10: Into the Abyss
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In the meantime, the men notice that Mac is digging an extremely deep pit. They make fun of him for it, even though... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11: Of Shock and Shells
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In the meantime, Mac makes some mistakes in judgment, which Burgin, who has the combat experience of three campaigns,... (full context)