Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The major theme of The Return of the Soldier is that no matter how magical is the world of he who has escaped from life’s unpleasant realities, it is no service to him to allow him to stay in that enchanted realm. Jenny destroys Kitty’s illusions about Chris’s return from war by informing her of the soon-to-be-accomplished reunion of Chris and Margaret, just as Margaret must destroy Chris’s illusions about her.

The truth is powerful; it must be served. Kitty must be told about Margaret’s place in Chris’s life because she must understand that she was neither his first lover nor his most important one. Jenny, too, comes to realize that she cannot ignore the evidence of Margaret’s complicated hold over Chris. She must admit the painful reality of the situation as well as admit that her own connection with Chris is no longer very strong. Finally, because truth must be served, Chris must confront the reality of his marriage to Kitty and the fact that his marriage to her produced a son who died quite young. He must be told this in order to save him from being regarded by others as an eccentric or, worse, a lunatic. To save the man, a dream must die: Margaret realizes that there is no other way.

Another theme is that physical changes wrought by time’s passage do not necessarily make people who once were lovers, strangers. In Margaret’s case, though passing years have marred her looks, she is able to recapture the affection of Chris and...

(The entire section is 554 words.)

The Return of the Soldier Social Concerns / Themes

The Return of the Soldier centers on what would be one of the major preoccupations of writers in the first half of the twentieth-century:...

(The entire section is 418 words.)