Because Larry is officially listed as missing in action instead of dead, Kate Keller desperately holds onto the hope that her son is still alive. Even though the odds that Larry is not dead are slim, Kate's motherly love compels her to believe that her son will return.
At one point, Ann, Larry's former fiancée, questions Kate about her optimism. Although Ann says it is futile to hope that Larry survived the war, Kate points to stories in the newspaper about missing servicemen who have been found alive after the war's end. Of course, Ann possesses a letter from Larry stating his intention to take his own life. Yet, she is reluctant to destroy a mother's hopes by revealing what she knows.
Kate's superstitious nature also compels her to continue to wait for Larry's return. She sees signs everywhere she looks that continue to give her hope. The destruction of Larry's memorial tree by lightning is a sign to her that they declared Larry to be dead too soon. Frank Lubey's horoscope for Larry also keeps her hope alive. It is only when a very exacerbated Ann shares Larry's final letter with her that Kate understands that her son is never coming home.