In Elizabeth Bowen's short story "Demon Lover," why is Mrs. Drover somewhat reluctant to return to her house in London?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In the beginning of Elizabeth Bowen's short story "Demon Lover," the protagonist Kathleen Drover shows reluctance at returning to her house in London because the story is set during the middle of World War II in which Germany has just launched its Blitzkrieg campaign. The word blitzkrieg is German for "lightning war" and refers to Hitler's military tactic of using air raids to weaken the enemy ("Blitzkrieg").

The setting of the story influences Kathleen's hesitancy to return to London for a couple of different reasons. First, London, being the capital of England, was a dangerous location during World War II, and at any moment, Germany could launch another air raid. Second, Kathleen is very hesitant to be in a house that feels thick with death due to the toll the war has taken on the house, the neighborhood, the city, and even the whole country, as her observation in the last sentence of the opening paragraph indicates: "Dead air came out to meet her as she went in."

What's more, she is particularly hesitant to see the damage of the house caused by prior air raids. For example, she observes that not very much dust has entered the house because all windows are boarded up, yet "each object [in the drawing room] wore a film of another kind." In saying "by another kind," the writer is referring to the soot and debris left over from the bombings. The bombings have even left "some cracks in the structure" of the house.

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