Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Mysterious Kôr” is a story about the contrast between two worlds, the real world of wartime London and the imaginary world of Kôr. The real world is described in the opening paragraphs of the story. It is a world of destruction, of bomb craters and of helmeted air wardens. It is a world in which private life has disappeared and nights are spent huddled in the Underground. However, it is a world of separation and isolation, even in the midst of crowds; thus the French soldiers, far from their own occupied country, unable even to find the place where they are to stay, are ignored by the wardens going off duty.

Pepita and Arthur are part of this real world. Although on the night of the story no bombs are falling, it is clear that this is merely a freakish respite, an exceptional night between nights when horror is normal. Arthur, too, has a respite, for he is on leave. There is no privacy, however, even for soldiers on leave. Although on this night he and Pepita do not have to go to the shelters, they cannot be alone, for in crowded London, Pepita must share a room with Callie. Thus, like the French soldiers, the lovers are homeless, and in the tiny flat with Callie, they are as much isolated from each other as they would have been had they been separated by miles.

In the real world, the love relationship itself is flawed. Arthur thinks that he would not ordinarily have been drawn to Pepita; she was not “his type”; their love had been...

(The entire section is 507 words.)