Walter E. Kurtz
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Walter E. Kurtz

Apocalypse Now

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rating 9.0/10 (6 users)
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About Him

Grew Up… in 1930s and '40s America. Though Kurtz was a grown man by the time he came to Vietnam, his most drastic personal development was to happen in the jungle far from American soil. 

Living… in a makeshift outpost in the heart of the Cambodian jungle. Kurtz has cut all ties with the Army, it seems, and has ceased to send out communications with his superior officers.

Profession… Army Special Forces agent, before he went AWOL. Though Kurtz had a promising future in the military, and was certainly destined to be made general, he now lives amongst a force of Montagnard troops, preaching to and commanding over them. He has gone rogue, and in the style of a classical warrior-poet, reigns over his people with absolute authority. 

Interests… philosophical theory. Kurtz has abandoned all the interests of his upbringing, telling Captain Willard – the man the Army sent to track him down, or worse – his approval of the ruthless Viet Cong. All of Kurtz' values and interests have become either abstract or martial. Without a chain of command or any higher-ups, Kurtz’ interests are philosophical first and practical second.

Relationship Status… unknown. Kurtz mentions having a son, and likely has a wife too. He is far from them now, both in physical distance and in mind, though he does worry that his son will not understand what he has done by becoming a jungle-dwelling renegade.

Challenge… in his own words, to “make a friend of horror.” As he puts it: “Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared.” Kurtz values violence without judgment, action without feeling. Having abandoned the virtues of both military and civilian life, Kurtz’ challenge is to meet the horror, head on, with neither love nor hate. 

Personality… charismatic, commanding, and insane. Kurtz speaks with the authority of a poet, philosopher, and prophet. He commands obedience and deference from his people, who love and serve him without question. But his time spent in the war-ravaged land has driven him mad. 

Walter E. Kurtz's popularity ranking on CharacTour is #2548 out of 5,600+ characters. See our top-ranked characters and read their profiles.

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