Intensive Care is appropriately titled, for Frame’s characters are victims in need of care for their physical, mental, and emotional wounds. The “recovery units,” however, serve only as way stations between birth and death, and their first consideration is “the smooth running of the whole ward,” not individual patients such as Tom or Leonard. Tom is a “war case,” a man who cannot relinquish his gas mask or his nightmarish dreams; Leonard is also affected by the war, which does not bring him the family about which he dreams. Cissy becomes the Cissy Everest Cancer Doll, and Tom’s daughter Naomi Whyborn, who also suffers from cancer, slowly loses one body part after another. In a sense, she resembles Sandy, the Reconstructed Man, whose doctors gave him everything except “care.” Ironically, not even the apparent winners are safe, as Colin Monk’s case indicates. The man who worships numbers because of their “cleanness” and thereby resembles Colin Torrance, the accountant and who believes that he has been “freed from guilt” finds that his “only hope” is to assume the identity of his twin brother, Sandy, “they myth, the Reconstructed Man.”
Colin Monk’s family has been killed at the end of the novel, which concerns the destruction of families by dreamers who reject reality for illusion. Because he cannot forget the War and cannot acclimate himself to his family, Tom tends the Flame “like a father or a lover,”...
(The entire section is 494 words.)