The Field of Vision, like The Huge Season and The Inhabitants, reflects Morris’s struggle with the past. In this book, however, he is less concerned with how one escapes the past than he is with how one confronts and conceptualizes it. One of the most sophisticated and intricate of Morris’s novels, The Field of Vision employs multiple perspectives to capture, group, and explore scattered fragments of the lives of five Americans.
What Morris reveals through the primary voices in the novel is largely a vision of failure. Virtually all the main characters are unable or unwilling to make constructive use of the past in order to cope effectively with everyday events. McKee, for example, prides himself in his common sense and adopts a conservative response to life; however, because he is unable to see beyond the superficial, he responds to the disconcerting present by retreating into the conventionality of middle-class values. Lois, McKee’s wife, is conventional as well, marrying McKee because marriage provided an accepted pattern of behavior that protected her from her subverted darker desires. The McKees share material success—a big house and money—but no love. Both have rejected sex, and Lois remains “stiffly laced into her corset of character.”
Scanlon, Lois’s father, sees virtually nothing in the present. During the bullfight, he spends most of his time reminiscing about a wagon train that...
(The entire section is 558 words.)