The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

At the center of War and Remembrance are the characters of Victor Henry and his family. Pug, as his friends call him, is a rather old-fashioned type who respects all the traditional values of marriage and patriotism. These values are challenged, however, when he is attracted to Pamela Tudsbury, a bright woman much younger than his wife, Rhoda. In keeping with his character, rather than thinking only of his personal ambitions, he sacrifices his desire for a command in order to serve as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s personal emissary to the Soviet Union. As several characters point out, Pug is “incredible” in his devotion to duty and to a personal moral code.

Byron is a close second to his father in demanding that friends, fellow officers, and family obey exacting moral standards. He breaks up his sister Madeline’s romance with her married boss, Hugh Cleveland; disapproves of his submarine captain’s shooting of Japanese soldiers who are the helpless survivors of a disabled ship; and is cool to his father when he correctly suspects that Pug has had an affair with Pamela.

These upright male Americans seem almost quaint in a world that is overthrowing civilized standards of behavior. Pug and Byron are clearly meant to counterpoint characters such as Aaron Jastrow, who must, to some extent, collaborate with the Nazis to save Natalie’s life. A different kind of collaborator, the German diplomat Werner Beck, shrewdly...

(The entire section is 424 words.)