The Good Soldier

Parallels Between Dowell’s Relationships and Narrative Style

Narration is a critical aspect of Ford’s The Good Soldier. Since the narrator also serves as one of the main characters, his narrative perspective becomes even more interesting to the reader. One of the most fascinating aspects of Dowell’s narration is that it is inconsistent, often incorrect, and at times somewhat passive. His perspectives and the way he views himself in his relationships create parallels to his narrative style, and indeed become shaping factors in his narration.

John Dowell’s relationships with women lack passion or sexual desire. He “has displayed not even the mildest tremors of sexual desire” (Levenson 378). His relationships with Florence and Nancy, which should have had the potential to be conventionally categorized as “romantic,” are anything but. To even begin to interpret Dowell’s relationships, it becomes necessary to first look at his overall view on love. He makes it clear that he does not believe in the “permanence of man’s or woman’s love… [or] permanence of any early passion” (Ford 96). He also states that “there is no man who loves a woman that does not desire to come to her for the renewal of his courage” (Ford 97) and that this, not a sexual passion, causes a man’s desire for a woman. Dowell’s...

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