I just reread this story and it made me think of Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est, which is a WWI poem about the tragedy, futility and most of all, the ingloriousness of war. The major (In Another Country), faces his rehab with the machine with stoic grace every day. The narrator skeptically looks at his machine and the seemingly hhopeful before and after photos which are supposed to inspire hope and determine in the patients. When the major hurts his hand, and then breaks into tears, the narrator learns that the major's wife has died. The major represented control and fearlessness even in his rehabilitation. His wife's passing took him over the edge, and that control and stoicism and glorious feeling about being a soldier were damaged. After his wife died, the major is now vulnerable in his and the narrator's eyes. In the end, they are both cynical about war and bravery. On or off the battlefield, they have little control over what happens. So the theme of war in this story carries over to life in general. War is inglorious and life is unfair. Not a very optimistic take, but we're talking about war and death.