Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Good Soldier

You know the saying: "Can't always get what you want."  That should have been the title of The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford.  Originally, Ford had titled this book "The Saddest Story," but he was told to change the title.  Personally, I think the original title was much more fitting.

An excerpt: "Well, it is all over.  Not one of us has got what he really wanted.  Leonora wanted Edward, and she has got Rodney Bayham, a pleasant enough sort of sheep.  Florence wanted Bramshaw, and it is I who have bought it from Leonora.  I didn't really want it; what I wanted mostly was to cease being a nurse-attendant.  Well, I am a nurse-attendant.  Edward wanted Nancy Rufford, and I have got her.  Only she is mad.  It is a queer and fantastic world.  Why can't people have want they want?  The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has the wrong thing.  Perhaps you can make heads or tail of it; it is beyond me."

John, the point of view character, is the only one who realizes that everyone is equally miserable.  What he misses, along with everyone else, is that each of them is responsible for their own misery.  Each character had the ability to get what he or she really wanted, yet they acted in ways that guaranteed that they wouldn't get it. 

I suppose it is human nature to dodge potential happiness whenever possible.  We really are gluttons for punishment!

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