Many of us don't understand the negative effects of war on a person, family and their lives. Terry is embarrassed by his father's actions. He is determined to understand what had happened to his father in Vietnam to make his father daydream and relive his experience in Vietnam. As Terry searches for answers, he learns that he may never completely understand what happened in Vietnam and to accept his father's condition. In order to understand why someone is having trouble in their life, we try to find out what happened in their life to make them that way.
Terry searches for answers by asking his mother what caused his father's strange behavior. His mother told him that it was the war, and the doctors at the veterans' hospital called it the Vietnam Syndrome. His mother doesn't help him understand, so he goes to the school library. The school library didn't tell him anything about the war, so he asked his history teacher.
One of the books the teacher suggested gave him a little information, but still did not help him understand. Sometimes our parents do things that embarrass us. Terry was embarrassed when his father was squirming along the floor of the hardware store. His father was crying and looking terrified and people were staring at him. When the store owner helped his father to his feet, he was making little whimpering sounds and his mother had to come and pick them up. The embarrassment became so bad that Terry would avoid his father in public places and he began to think about it all the time.
Terry cannot take it anymore and decides he has to do something. He decides to wait until he can get his father alone to ask him about what had happened in Vietnam. Initially, his father doesn't want to tell him about Vietnam, but then his father decides to share the story with him. Terry's father told him was trapped on a rice paddy and his unit was being fired upon... Everyone in his group was killed.
Terry's father had to hide under a dead soldier's body in order to survive. He spent the whole night terrified that the "Charley's" would find him and kill him. He knew that when the sun came up, he would die. He thought that if he could stop the sun from rising he could survive. The sun came up and the "Charley's" poked at the dead soldier on top of Terry's father and moved on.
In the end Terry realizes, he would never know what it was like to be in Vietnam, and maybe his father would never be normal. He learned to accept what he could not change and decides he would not be embarrassed no matter what his father did. This was the beginning to accepting his father for who he is and trying to move forward in life.