When Larry Darrell returns to his native Chicago after having served as an aviator in World War I, he returns with a whole new set of values. He has experienced combat, and he has seen his closest friend killed. He has asked himself unanswerable questions. He returns briefly to the materialistic world of business that he left behind when he went to war, but the vacuity of that world becomes increasingly evident to him as he tries to make his readjustment to it.
Unwilling or unready to marry Isabel Bradley, the girl to whom he has been engaged, Larry embarks on a search for answers to life’s greatest questions. He wants to discover for himself the purpose of human existence, and he becomes extremely concerned with finding a solution to the problem of evil in the world. Larry’s pursuit of answers to cosmic questions leads him to India, where he spends five years before settling in Paris, which is where, aside from flashbacks to Chicago and to India, the story takes place.
Isabel Bradley, although she still loves Larry deeply, realizes that she cannot anticipate with him the sort of future she requires. She is materialistic and conventional. She marries Gray Maturin, a tediously dull but basically decent businessman who has achieved considerable success, and they settle into the prototypical life of the upper middle class.
Gray’s business, however, fails during a business slump, and he is forced into bankruptcy. Isabel sticks...
(The entire section is 534 words.)