The Return of the Soldier

True to a Lie: Two Perspectives on Moral Responsibility in "Return of the Soldier"

In two of the concluding paragraphs of "Return of the Soldier", both Jenny and Margaret grapple with the moral dilemma of whether to or not to "cure" Chris. Although the women, while looking over Oliver's toys in the nursery, convince one another that it is right not to force Chris to accept the truth, they both know that in the end fate, society, and duty will prevail over happiness and love, and they must tell him the truth. Although Margaret decides to "cure" Chris because she believes she is doing the right thing for him, Jenny decides that he must be cured because she realizes that her love for Chris will disappear over time along with his youth and masculinity; accepting reality and conforming to society, however, will never go out of style. Margaret wants to cure Chris for his benefit, while Jenny wants to do it for her own good.

Although it is Margaret alone who takes his son's ball and jersey to Chris and "cures" him, both she and Jenny decide simultaneously that this is what should be done, and they are both involved in the decision. Margaret does not act without mutual, if unspoken, consent. In the silence after Kitty leaves the nursery, both Jenny and Margaret come to...

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