Kiowa symbolises the wastefulness of war.
Kiowa is the emotional compass of Alpha Company, the one who gets everyone else to talk. Kiowa tries to comfort Tim after he kills the North Vietnamese soldier, and it is to Kiowa that Dobbins opens up to about his respect for the clergy. The night before Kiowa is killed the young soldier is in a tent speaking to him about his girlfriend left behind.
Kiowa helps Tim by easing his transitions. He makes Tim more comfortable when he arrives at the war, talking to him about the others’ jokes about corpses, and he tries to get Tim to talk about the Vietnamese soldier he killed. Tim tells the story of Linda to Kiowa. It is from Kiowa, therefore that Tim learns the importance of communicating, leading eventually to his becoming a writer. In some ways, Kiowa’s death is what makes Tim a writer, a teller of stories. When he returns to Vietnam with Katherine, he takes her to the site of Kiowa’s death in the field. Although Tim does not tell her the story of Kiowa, he brings her to that site so that he might pass the story on, just as he will pass on the story of how he killed a man when he feels Katherine is ready to hear it