The Effects of War

The Marrowbone Marble Company features several combat veterans: Don Staples is a World War I vet; Loyal Ledford, Mack Wells, and Erm Bacigalupo are World War II vets; and Fury Bacigalupo is a Vietnam War vet. Taylor uses the characters, namely Ledford, to illustrate the long-lasting effects of combat on the human spirit. Years before Ledford meets Don Staples, the wise professor/preacher lost his wife and son to his drinking and temper. By the time he begins mentoring Ledford, he hasn't seen his wife or son in fifteen years. Similarly, when Ledford and Erm return from combat, they spend much of their time drinking and looking for ways to block out combat images that their minds cannot comprehend. Taylor skillfully describes Ledford's psychological struggle to process the image of a friend's face exploding as his "memory [holding] no pictures such as this one." Fury represents the third generation of combat veterans and shows up at Marrowbone disillusioned with life after Vietnam and strung out on morphine. While Taylor does not overtly press the harsh truth of veterans' suffering upon his reader's conscience, he clearly implies that the inner war never ceases for a soldier or marine.

Racism and Prejudice

In the first several chapters of the book, Taylor makes it clear that race relations will play a significant role in Loyal Ledford's life. Even as a pre-war eighteen-year-old, Ledford is conscious of Mack's isolated existence at the glass factory. He makes it a point to get to know Mack and try to befriend him. From that point on, the author adeptly discusses race relations on a local level between individuals and families and on a national level with the Civil Rights Movement. He blends the problems between the bigoted people surrounding Marrowbone and Ledford's group with historical events such as the march from Selma to Montgomery, Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination,...

(The entire section is 546 words.)