Thoughts on Wartime Infidelity

As I read this novel, I began to think of the recurring problem of wartime infidelity that is still going on. I decided to research this problem, and happened to come upon an article from 1945 in which the author discusses the problems with both “women chasing” soldiers overseas and unfaithful army wives. This article points out that both men and women may cheat on the other while overseas because they are “sure” that the other one is anyway. This presents the danger of reading things as a “single story” or single way of seeing something. The article itself, however, only sees one angle of this issue. There could be a number of reasons that something like this could happen, not limited to this one problem of “well she will cheat too.”

What I also found interesting was the lasting effect that this infidelity can cause, especially if it is one sided. I came upon a term called “Post Infidelity Stress Disorder” in which those who have been cheated on are compared to those who have PTSD. The results of the comparison were strikingly similar. War, it seems, can have similar effects on people even when they are nowhere near the battlefield. This may also be a reason for the suicides of soldiers who come home from combat. PTSD on top of infidelity is not something I would wish on anyone. Perhaps this is something the main character went through in this novel.



One thought on “Thoughts on Wartime Infidelity

  1. I think the Post Infidelity Stress Disorder reading of Deborah is really interesting. I briefly toyed with some psychology in my post (which may be completely wrong, but I just wanted to throw out some ideas). I think there is definitely something possibly psychological going on with Deborah because of how nonchalant she becomes by the end of the novel (and sleeps with her husband’s friend!). It is fascinating how she constantly makes excuses and moral justices of why she is sleeping with many men–plus, by the end of the novel she seems to do this far less and appears to not need excuses anymore. I understand there are a lot of other elements to the novel and social expectations as the Andrea Adolph’s article pointed out, but I can’t help but wonder if there is something mentally going on with Deborah considering how heartless and emotionally unattached to her family she becomes.

    Though I do not know much about this Post Infidelity Stress Disorder, I think it could offer an interesting reading of the novel right from the beginning. The novel opens with Deborah and Graham discussing fidelity while he is away. Right from the start, he let’s Deborah know that he likely will not be faithful. I wonder if this could have been the “trigger” for Deborah to have Post Infidelity Stress Disorder–even though there is “post” in the name, which indicates the stress would have to occur after the infidelity has already happened. I guess you could kind of say the infidelity in a way has already happened since Graham acknowledges that he likely will not be chaste. It has to be really hard to hear such bluntness from a partner–he is basically saying, “I love you, but not enough to wait for you physically.”

    I think you are definitely onto something with the Post Infidelity Stress Disorder thing. 🙂



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