Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

From Here to Eternity offers an unflinching view of army life. Jones captures the spirit of the peacetime army with extraordinary accuracy and authenticity; he uses the vulgar, graphic language of the soldier not only for effect, but also for realism. Commonplace violence pervades every action in the novel. Jones spares no detail as Prewitt drinks, fights, gets hurt, kills, and finally is killed. In strongly gripping scenes, Jones describes the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a drunken, violent night out on the town with the soldiers of G Company.

These men visit prostitutes, they swill beer, they fight, they gamble, they curse profusely, and perhaps most of all, they seem destined to live life to its fullest. Following the naturalistic tradition, a kind of determinism seems to control their actions. By setting his novel in the peacetime army, Jones is able to depict a man, Prewitt, as a symbol for mankind struggling with a natural and superior force bent on destroying him. Jones shows the rawest aspects of this battle, but the larger meaning can be applied to the human condition. Pushed by forces beyond his control, Prewitt seems destined to falter in his struggle for peace, love, and happiness. A failed artist, Prewitt the bugler becomes Prewitt the soldier. By refusing to earn his living with violence, Prewitt succumbs to an even more violent and destructive existence.

All of Jones’s characters attempt to resolve this...

(The entire section is 472 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Jones built one characteristically pungent theme into all of his writing: "Even the worst SOB in the world has suffered." Jones dedicated...

(The entire section is 186 words.)