One could argue that the overriding theme of the story is the impossibility of escaping one's past. That's what Katherine has tried to do ever since a former lover of hers died during World War I. Yet the sudden, shocking appearance of this long dead paramour in spirit form has put paid to her attempts to move on with her life.
The message seems to be that the past will always come back to haunt us sooner or later unless we come to terms with it. One senses, then, that Katherine has never really been able to do that, for one reason or another. Perhaps she'd forgotten about her lover after all these years. Or perhaps she'd never had the chance to grieve over her loss. Whatever the reason, Katherine's past is now as real to her as her present, with truly terrifying consequences.
In "The Demon Lover," Bowen explores the theme of war. Specifically, the story highlights the effects of war on both the combatants and the civilians.
When the story opens, for example, the reader learns that Mrs....
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