Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Ocanara Army Air Base

Ocanara Army Air Base. Sprawling makeshift military facility in Florida comprising landing strips and hastily built temporary structures—a military base similar to many that sprang up in the United States—especially in the South—during World War II. The makeshift nature of the base’s buildings represents perfectly the character of the Army Air Force personnel stationed there. Most of the men and women at Ocanara are not military professionals; rather, they have been moved by patriotism or shame into joining the service. Although the majority of these ex-civilians perform tasks at the base that are similar to what they did in civilian life, most of them would rather be somewhere else—perhaps in combat, probably not. The base is claustrophobic: men and women work together, socialize, and sometimes sleep together. The setting clearly represents a microcosm, not only of the 1940’s South, but of American culture of that era.

The moral perspectives of the novel’s characters constitute a full range of choices and positions. Hence, just as there exist contrasting qualities among the physical characteristics of the air base and the nearby town, Ocanara, the characters’ multiple points of view create a good deal of tension among base personnel. Questions of morality surface in the forms of discussions, arguments, and debate concerning not only military dereliction of duty but marital fidelity and sexual conduct—and, what is most important, racial prejudice.

Among people on the base, the...

(The entire section is 638 words.)