Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

On the social level, Caught concerns itself with the war’s chaotic disruption of routine lives. Green takes pains to mar any Churchillian canvas of a gallant, indomitable people braving the odds against aggressive tyranny. Instead, he paints an atmosphere of muddle and rumormongering, pettiness and self-seeking, irresponsibility and emotional laxity, tension and confusion.

Against this background, the novel spins out the dialectic of two men with contrasting backgrounds, minds, fates. Both Pye and Roe are subjected to intense harassments, strains, losses, and loneliness. The unfortunate Pye is destroyed by a complex of inner and outer pressures. Roe, on the other hand, moves from the hollowness of his class-conscious upper crust to a revitalization of his humanity, a reintegration of his life through familiarization with the lives of more vulnerable, ordinary, poorer people. In the book’s last chapter, he recalls to his sister-in-law the scorching recent nights of raids endured, fires fought, and his manhood restored. He sums up the sense of these experiences thus:In some fantastic way I’m sure you only get in war, we were suddenly alone and forced to rely on one another entirely. And that after twelve month’s bickering. Each crew was thrown upon itself, on its own resources. The only thing to do was to keep together.

Dy, imprisoned in insular snobbism, in unable to understand Roe’s cathartic reminiscences. “I wonder...

(The entire section is 488 words.)