Quotes

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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 541

"Editha" by William Dean Howells is a short story which examines the subject of war. Therefore, when identifying important quotes from the short story, one must take into consideration the idea of war.

  1. "The air was thick with the war feeling, like the electricity of a storm which had not...

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"Editha" by William Dean Howells is a short story which examines the subject of war. Therefore, when identifying important quotes from the short story, one must take into consideration the idea of war.

  1. "The air was thick with the war feeling, like the electricity of a storm which had not yet burst." This quote is the opening sentence of the story. This line sets the mood of the text, foreshadowing the conflict to come, and it immediately addresses the theme of war. In regards to the mood, the idea of a coming storm helps to illustrate the anxiety war brings for those involved. It also addresses the fact that war can be immediate and sudden, although the thought of war coming can be felt.
  2. "She never knew what to think of him; that made his mystery, his charm." Here, the quote addresses how Editha feels about George, her fiancé. She seems to love him for his mysterious nature, yet at the same time, she is not quite clear about who he really is. This mirrors how they feel about the idea of war. Editha supports the war openly. However, George is not as passionate about the idea of war. He sees war as an ironic contradiction to peace. That to find peace, one must go to war confuses him.
  3. "Our country—right or wrong." This piece of dialogue belongs to George. The importance of this quote is grounded in patriotism. When one loves his or her country, the choices the country makes, "right or wrong," do not matter. The country is theirs, and the choices that the country makes is part of who they are. Here, George openly identifies his acceptance of war based upon his love for his country.
  4. "Do you wish me to feel as you do?" This is another piece of dialogue by George. He is questioning individuality. Although Editha openly supports the war, George questions it. This also calls marriage into question. When two people are married, it is sometimes easier to possess the same ideologies. Under these circumstances, some may argue that individualism is lost when one marries. A person becomes an extension of their partner. George is questioning this concept in the same way he questions the war.
  5. "I shall always love you, and therefore I shall never marry any one else. But the man I marry must love his country first of all." Here, Editha openly confesses her concerns in marrying George. Although she states that she will only marry him, her statement includes a "but." A "but," made in any statement, dismisses everything which proceeds it. In the end, Editha is giving George an ultimatum: fight in the war or she will not marry him. This quote's importance lies in what it states about Editha. She is so emotionally engrossed in the idea of war that nothing else matters.

In the end, George goes off to war and dies. Editha finds out and begins to look at war very differently. George's death has freed her from her previous ideas of war. She no longer looks at war as a romantic idea where the man proves his love for his lover by fighting. Instead, she looks at war as something necessary in life, sometimes.

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