Character Analysis Henry Dobbins


Henry Dobbins' actions are driven by his sincerity, respectfulness, kindness, and faith. Dobbins is not a complex character; he exhibits a resounding genuineness in his actions, such as reprimanding Azar as he mimicked the dancing of a traumatized Vietnamese girl. Similarly, Dobbins' character and personality are revealed as he expresses his thoughts about joining the clergy when he and Kiowa discuss religion in "Church." Although he cannot understand the monks' language, he shows them kindness, respecting the sanctity of their church and speaking to them in what little Vietnamese he knows. O'Brien makes Dobbins a different model for a soldier than Azar, who is particularly savage and immature, and the others in Alpha Company: He is a great soldier, but he is neither bloodthirsty nor obnoxious. Dobbins represents the good intentions of middle America.

Another notable attribute of Dobbins is his intense commitment to following his moral code. Just as Dobbins is "drawn toward sentimentality" in his personal beliefs and his approach to the war, he is similarly insulated from the psychological and physical trauma of war through the power of his belief. Dobbins focuses this power on, and believes that his faith stems from, a pair of pantyhose that are his personal talisman. He believes himself safe from harm as long as he keeps the pantyhose, and he is. For example, Dobbins trips a land mine — an event that usually kills — without the mine detonating. Dobbins attributes this miracle to his faith in the pantyhose, and through this event, he "turned [Alpha Company] into a platoon of believers." Dobbins demonstrates to us that what you believe in is not as important as simply believing in something, and he teaches his fellow soldiers to believe in his story of defying death.