Thoughts at the Halfway Point…From Here to Eternity
Things are not fun and rosy halfway through James Jones’ WWII tome, From Here to Eternity….and Pearl Harbor hasn’t even been attacked yet.
Prewitt went and fell in love with a town prostitute named Alma, whom he’s now shacked up with on weekends and has proposed to twice, but she won’t marry him because he’s ‘only a soldier’. Picky, picky. Plus he’s routinely getting his ass busted all week long by the officers in his regiment because he is still steadfastly refusing to box. They’re not starving him or beating him up or anything, but they’re not being nice either. So far Prewitt is withstanding it pretty well. Then good buddy Maggio goes off the deep end one night by beating up some MPs and gets his butt landed in the Stockade (the military jail).
Warden isn’t doing so hot, either. He gets mad at someone all the time, and I mean really mad, usually taking the form of three page-long rants where Warden just hauls off on someone, not even for a halfway decent reason. I think he is losing it, a little bit. He of course has gone off the deep end with Karen, his commanding officer’s wife, and although he thinks he’s being Mr Slick by going under the radar with her and sneaking around town, someone knows what’s going on and confronts him about it. When I last left off, the person who confronted him, who not surprisingly had also hooked up with Karen in the past, was chasing him in the dark with a meat cleaver.
There was also quite a big section devoted to ‘queers’, or the men in the town near the base who prefer other men. From what I read, it sounds like the soldiers take advantage of these men for one of two rather compelling reasons: 1)loneliness or 2)when they need money. Maggio has a friend named Hal, whom he freeloads alcohol and money from, although it’s not clear if there are benefits for Hal. Jones originally intended to include several homosexual scenes and references in the book…but publishers didn’t have the world’s most open minds back in 1951, and would not publish the book with the scenes. Only recently, the full, unedited version of the book is now available as an ebook through Open Road. Here is a great posting on why the changes were made: http://christopher-vaught.blogspot.com/2011/04/deleted-queer-stuff-from-from-here-to.html?zx=c7609219b0108363.