The Return of the Soldier Characters

Rebecca West

The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

It is difficult to discover which character is most central to the action of The Return of the Soldier, for each has a pivotal role to play. Yet without Chris Baldry, the plot would collapse, for he binds together the unlikely rivals for his love, Kitty and Margaret.

Chris is, at first, unreal, for the reader hears of him only through others who have known him, principally the narrator, Jenny, and wife Kitty. From them, we see him as a war casualty, a walking emblem of war’s cruelty and capriciousness. Wars not only maim and kill the physical body but also affect the mind and spirit.

Set against the blasphemous horror of war are Margaret’s and Kitty’s recollections of an earlier, more peaceful time. Chris figures as a man of feeling and intellect, capable of passion and love, a gentle man who delights in making others happy and fulfilled. At the same time, he is a dreamer conjuring the ideal world.

At the center of his ideal world is Margaret Grey, a charming, loving adolescent girl later to be transformed into a seamed woman of middle years. As a girl, she fell in love with Chris’s ability to dream and hope and from him learned to do the same. Though her dreams have come to nothing and despite the fact that she is constrained by circumstance to live a rather drab life, she delights in what life affords her. Her understanding of people is at once intuitive and accurate, and she finds that the quiet life allows her to concentrate on...

(The entire section is 607 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Chris Baldry

Chris Baldry, a thirty-five-year-old English country gentleman who is attractive and fair-complected, with brown and gold hair. Charming, honorable, and amiable, he has left his wife and cousin Jenny home at Baldry Court in the south of England to become a soldier in France during World War I. Fifteen years earlier, after the death of his father, Chris was given a large estate, along with the “responsibility of” his many female relatives. He married a beautiful but ostentatious woman and, several years later, suffered the death of their only child, a two-year-old boy named Oliver. The story begins when Chris is fighting in the trenches during the war. He suffers an injury that results in a memory loss that erases everyone from his mind save the woman whom he loved as a young man fifteen years earlier and whom circumstances had caused him to lose. From a military hospital, he writes to her; consequently, she informs his family of his whereabouts. When he returns home to Baldry Court, he demands to see her. Her subsequent periodic visits are his only joy and reality, and their love for each other remains fresh and genuine. It is her generous spirit and his sense of duty to his family that ultimately bring back his memory and the end of their relationship, if not their love. His return to the trenches of Flanders is ensured.

Margaret Allington Grey

Margaret Allington Grey, the first and only real love in Chris’s life. Thirty-three years old, she is plain, with tender gray eyes and fair, curly hair,...

(The entire section is 639 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

At times, the characters in The Return of the Soldier are not examples of well-drawn, developed characters, but aspects of a class in...

(The entire section is 269 words.)