Reality In Rebecca West's The Return Of The Soldier

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Reality can often be a hard pill to swallow, and often, it would be much more pleasant to return to a blissful state in the past. Rebecca West acknowledges this truth in her novel The Return of the Soldier by pitting her characters against harsh realities. While some characters chose to accept these realities, as in the case of Margaret and Chris, other characters largely get to escape from their struggles, as in the case of Jenny and Kitty. Rebecca West’s The Return of the Soldier makes use of themes of trauma, classism, and escapism to illustrate its central conflict. Each character struggles to reconcile with the future, due to a variety of reasons, and as such the major conflict illustrated by this novel is between each character and reality.
Conflict with reality is most obviously exhibited by the character of Chris. On the surface, it seems like a clear-cut case of anemia, in which Chris is incapable of recalling the past fifteen years of his life. However, Dr. Anderson puts it best when he corrects Kitty “if those wishes are suppressed by the superficial self […] it takes
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Chris, suffering from amnesia, clings to his trauma consciously or subconsciously as a form of escape – a way to return to his life of fifteen years ago. Jenny and Kitty use the walls of Baldry Court and their aristocratic class to distance themselves from the horrors of the present day as well as denial of intrusion into their perfect lives. Margaret, desperate to return to a time when class struggle was not an issue, shares in Chris’ fantasy but eventually makes her peace with reality. For various reasons, these characters begin and progress through the novel in a harsh conflict against reality, and while some characters finally accept their fate, others are allowed to hide behind their

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