Theme Of Alienation In The Return Of The Soldier

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Alienation in The Return of the Soldier
In her novel, The Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West depicts the effects of World War 1 through the character, Chris Baldry, who undergoes a psychological transformation. His memory is rewind fifteen years back, which causes him to retreat from the life he was living. The dramatic changes affected his relationship with his wife Kitty Baldry. Throughout the novel, Chris is treated simply as the “soldier” after returning from war, which leads him to experience a sense of alienation that impacts his marriage, memory and social life.
Chris’s marriage with Kitty is a cradle of isolation due to his psychological disturbance. Chris is treated different by Kitty, even though she is aware of his mental state.
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“And there I was on the lawn with Chris, and he angry and somehow miles away” suggest that Chris was not in tune with reality and blocked the idea that Jenny was in his company (West 52). According to Eli Somer, a professor at the University of Haifa in Israel, who coined the phrase “maladaptive daydreaming”, defines it as “extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/or interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning.” So then, Chris developed a maladaptive daydreaming disorder that caused him to disassociate himself with reality from time to time. This makes it evident that Chris is an example of a Freudian, due to the transformation of his behavior after the war. Moreover, according to Virginia Woolf and Nietzsche, the individuals are chained to their social systems from birth. Therefore, they are trapped within the social system that gives them life and if they chose to knock down the social door they won’t find much on the other side, only darkness.
In conclusion, the novel, The Return of the Soldier encompasses the implications of World War and the severe trauma it has on human mental state. Throughout the novel Rebecca West uses Chris as a flat character yet gives the reader a thorough view experiencing a horrific war. She also depicts one of the major theme throughout the novel, which is alienation through Chris. Even though, Chris’s alienation is directly stemmed from his loss of memory and time, West also reveals that alienation can occur from the social system at birth, which depicts Chris’s
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