After the Major's wife died unexpectedly, the Major's shock was huge but bigger was his Stoicism. He did not show up at the hospital until three days later, wearing a black ribbon tied to his uniform, and affronting some bravery. After her funeral (we assume) he went back and began his therapy for his wounded hand. The way that he attempted normal life was through his routine at going to the hospital, getting his treatment, and helping the Narrator with his Italian grammar. However, we know that this was a foolish attempt at hiding his true feelings of not having any more control of life. He may have been a major, a fencer, and a good brave soldier, but life is out of his control now, and his little attempts at normalcy continue to be shadowed by his reality. Unless he accepts its and takes it onwards, he will never be free of himself.