The tone in this chapter is relatively pronounced in my opinion. I took it as a tone of guilt. There seemed to be several different characters who felt partly to blame for Kiowa's death. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, for starters. He felt bad for following orders and setting up camp in a giant muck-infested river when he had the instinct to move somewhere else in the first place. It kept flooding at night and there was no protection around them leaving his entire troop vulnerable to attack. He continuously beats himself up about his mistake, and spends much of the chapter debating on how best to write a letter to Kiowa's father and explain his remorse for his death. Another man who feels guilty is the "young soldier" who is not mentioned by name throughout the chapter. To me, he is the one who should probably feel the most guilty in the encounter. Because of his flashlight, he was what gave their location away and put them under attack.
"He remembered switching on his flashlight. A stupid thing to do, but he did it anyway, and he remembered Kiowa leaning in for a look at the picture - 'Hey, she's cute,' he'd said - and then the field exploded all around them. Like murder, the boy thought. The flashlight made it happen. Dumb and dangerous. And as a result his friend Kiowa was dead." (page 163)
Maybe I wouldn't hold him so accountable if he had shown a little more emotion in the aftermath. The thing that appalled me the most was how the next day, while the other soldiers were searching for Kiowa's body, he was by himself looking for the picture of his girlfriend that he had lost instead. Seriously? For Christ's sake, it's a picture and he is at war. Shouldn't he be more concerned about the fact that he is partly responsible for the death of his own friend? He said they were close, so why isn't he acting like it? What I also realized later on was that O'Brien never mentioned his own whereabouts during this chapter... Does that mean that he himself was the "young soldier" but was too ashamed to mention his own name? There's some food for thought.
Yet another who feels some guilt is Azar for making jokes about the way that Kiowa died. Granted it wasn't kind or compassionate, but I think that he was only attempting to deal with his own grief. I don't think he honestly meant anything hurtful by it because he apologized later. As for Norman Bowker, I don't see how he felt guilty at all. He didn't do anything wrong at whatsoever. In fact, he did the man justice by finding his body and working to dig him out so that he could be sent home. Those are my observations at least.
As a sidenote that has nothing to do with tone, did this catch anyone else's attention?
Azar smiled and said, "Classic."
Maybe it's just me, but I immediately thought of Alan in the Hangover. haha :)