From Here To Eternity Characters

James Jones

The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a stubborn man. He searches for confrontation, and, like his namesake in history, he idealistically stands by his principles. In the end, this stubbornness, this tenacity, brings him down to defeat. It is interesting that Prewitt chooses to transfer to “Dynamite” Holmes’s G Company, knowing that there he will be pressured into making the choice between boxing for his company or being ostracized. In essence, he sets up the conflict for himself. Rooted in the tradition of a lone strongman, the character Prewitt possesses a stubbornness to which he clings even as he faces death. If he had simply allowed himself to be arrested and returned to the stockade for his AWOL offense, Prewitt would not have been killed. If he had merely agreed to fight one time in the ring, he would have been spared “the treatment.” If, at the beginning of the novel, Prewitt had allowed himself to be demoted in the Bugle Corps, he could have continued to play the bugle—his one true love in life. Yet Prewitt steadfastly refuses to acquiesce. A paradoxical character, he claims to be a “30-year career Army man,” yet by this admission he sentences himself to a life which by its design squashes independent, uncompromising individuals.

Sergeant Milton Warden serves as a bridge between this structured army life and Prewitt’s need to rebel. As first sergeant of the company, Warden has a duty to carry out his commanding officer’s order to make life difficult...

(The entire section is 603 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt

Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt, a soldier stationed with the U.S. Army in the Hawaiian islands. He is rebellious and proud, but he loves the Army and is a good soldier. He is also an excellent bugler and boxer. He requests a transfer into Captain Holmes’s company (G Company) because the company commander of the Bugle Corps replaced him as first bugler. Holmes and the sergeants of G Company pressure Prewitt, in increasingly forceful ways, to box on the company team. Prewitt, who once blinded a friend while sparring, refuses, despite the fact that boxing would ensure that he has an easy time and offer a promotion to corporal and the job of first bugler for G Company. He later goes absent without leave after killing the sergeant who beat a friend of his to death in the stockade. He is shot while attempting to return to his company after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.

Alma Schmidt

Alma Schmidt, who now calls herself Lorene, a prostitute at the New Congress Club who becomes Prewitt’s lover. Formerly a waitress in Oregon, she came to Hawaii after her boyfriend married someone else. Prewitt wants to marry her. He even offers to box, so that he can become a sergeant and get posted back to the mainland United States. Lorene refuses. She does not want to marry a soldier. Her goal is to make enough money to be able to go back to Oregon, buy herself and her mother a house, live an ordinary middle-class life, and be...

(The entire section is 614 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The chief sufferer — the term "hero" does not suit any of Jones's protagonists — of From Here to Eternity is Robert E. Lee...

(The entire section is 458 words.)