Jessup keeps saying that Santiago's death is important to save many other lives. I didn't get it. I wish somebody could explain this to me.

Moreover, if he was so weak, how come he got recruited for Navy? And why Dawson won't allow other members to operate code red on Santiago?

  • While all these questions seem to be valid, this needs to be cleaned up a bit in order to be a few separate questions on the site or one big analysis question on the piece.
    – Tablemaker
    Aug 21, 2013 at 12:15
  • @Tyler- I've removed the last question which I think was separate from the rest. And now I think the questions are related. I hope you agree.
    – aarbee
    Aug 21, 2013 at 12:22
  • Much better it seems.
    – Tablemaker
    Aug 21, 2013 at 12:34

2 Answers 2


Santiago was a Marine, not Navy. You don't become a Marine unless you want to be a Marine. And his heart condition was so mild, that it was never detected until he pushed his physical development during training.

As to Jessup's statement, a Marine squad/platoon operates as a unit. Each man depends upon his fellow marines to protect his back and do their job. If Santiago was physically unable to do his job, he could potentially endanger his entire platoon. For want of a nail... If Santiago was removed from the group, the overall quality of the platoon goes up, and the chances of success go up.

  • 1
    Well, Marine is also a member of force only. So I would assume that before recruitment all force members are tested for physical fitness like running for certain distance or swimming certain distance or jumping or something. If Santiago was unable to perform these tasks, how did he get recruited?
    – aarbee
    Aug 21, 2013 at 16:28
  • 1
    Btw, nice point regarding quality of platoon being proportional to the safety of nation.
    – aarbee
    Aug 21, 2013 at 16:29

Jim Green gives a good answer, I'm just going to elaborate a bit more. Basically, there were two opposing forces with regard to Santiago. On the one hand, he clearly was not cut out to be a Marine. In almost any other organisation, he would have been shown the door (or in his case, probably given a dishonorable discharge) as soon as he was seen not to be what the platoon needed. On the other hand, Jessup was not one to admit failure. Letting someone just walk off after he had been part of his marine corps would have been a failure in his eyes, since he wasn't able to mold Santiago into being a proper fighting machine. So this explains why Santiago wasn't allowed to just leave, as well as Jessup's mindset with Santiago.

Having said all that, in Jessup's mind, Santiago was a risk. If the Cubans ever tried to attack, Jessup would have had to put Santiago out there with the rest of the crew, and at best he would have been killed quickly (at worst, the Cubans would capture him and torture him to get info on how to get past the Marine defences). Think a minute to the movie 300. Leonidas meets Ephialtes, who like Santiago wants to fight but is incapable of doing so. As Leonidas explains to him, if Ephialtes were to be part of their group, he would compromise their phalanx form, not only putting himself in harm's way but also someone else. Jessup and Leonidas, as leaders of men about to fight an enemy, had to think of their whole group. One weak link, and the whole group would suffer. So yes, in Jessup's mind, Santiago's death "while tragic, probably saved lives" because of his inherent risk to the whole group.

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