In the Valley of Elah
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Hank tells Emily's son the story of David and Goliath, which took place in the valley of Elah, an area 50 minutes southwest of Jerusalem. This story is a part of the tradition of the Abrahamic religions. David, a mere boy, battled the giant Goliath one-on-one. This story and the title serve as an allegory for any warzone (in this case, Iraq) where young, inexperienced American soldiers (the 'Davids') are thrown in the midst of a hostile, unpredictable and chaotic situation (which represents the 'Goliath') for which they are ill-prepared.

The soldiers are given orders which clash heavily with their conscience, like having to run over people with a van if they get in front of a convoy. It causes them to become so traumatized and conflicted, that they try to cope in dubious ways, like using drugs and torturing innocent war victims. In a sense, the 'Davids' become the arrogant aggressors (the 'Goliaths') themselves.

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