Written in the form of a first-person narrative of events that transpired in a single year following an April dinner party to celebrate Roy’s twenty-first birthday, The Aerodrome is a study of his ambivalence when confronted with the dilemmas that have to be faced at the juncture of adolescence and adulthood and when traditional, unquestioned ways are confronted by new and appealing ones that demand acceptance or rejection almost immediately.
The narrative opens with Roy, who has been told that his “parents” are actually his guardians, recovering from a drinking binge that followed the Rector’s revelation. On his return to the rectory, he overhears the Rector confessing to having killed a fellow divinity student, Anthony, because of jealousy, while on a mountaineering excursion twenty-two years earlier. (Anthony had been offered the village benefice and had gained the affection of the girl whom both courted.)
On the following day, the Rector, his wife, Roy, the Squire, and the Squire’s sister, Florence, attend the local agricultural fair where the Flight-Lieutenant mischievously lets loose the Squire’s prize bull, Slazenger, and kills the Rector while demonstrating a machine gun that has been inadvertently loaded with live ammunition. Meanwhile, Roy has sex with Bess, the innkeeper’s daughter.
At the Rector’s funeral, the Air Vice-Marshal announces his plan for taking over the village, converting the Manor into an officers’ club, and appointing the Flight-Lieutenant as village padre. Roy decides to abandon his plans for a career in the civil service, to join the air force, and to marry Bess. The new padre marries them clandestinely. The Squire, who is wholly disconsolate at the loss of the Manor and its lands, which was for generations the center of the village’s life, dies after apparently trying to tell Roy something about the young man’s origins. Bess’s mother, Eva, aware of how close Roy and her daughter have become, advises Roy that a marriage...
(The entire section is 826 words.)