Mary Borden- A Brief Note about “The Beach”

For my Website Recon, one of the sites I went to discussed how men who’d had their faces reconstructed, despite surgical success, still could not get past the trauma. They would still hide themselves away or be too ashamed to be around their friends and family.

“The Beach” reminded me greatly of this. While the man in the story has had an amputation, he still finds it hard to be around his wife and reconciling what has happened to him. He can’t stand to be around her- almost disgusted by her perfection- but at the same time he doesn’t want to lose her. It’s interesting to get this kind of POV– aside from Nellie’s fiance, I don’t think we’ve seen the inner thoughts of a wounded soldier in these novels. Henry was wounded, but he made a full physical recovery and was sent back to the front. I doubt the soldier in “The Beach” is going anywhere any time soon.

What do you all think Borden was trying to do by providing this point of view?

205 thoughts on “Mary Borden- A Brief Note about “The Beach”

  1. The feeling I got from this chapter was that Borden describes the beach as a total paradise: the perfect place to escape from the outside world. It seems like a place like that should help this man recover from his trauma, but it doesn’t. In fact, it seems to only remind him of it further, especially since he feels he won’t be able to express his love again. The point where I see the most of this reaction was the description of the “pleasure houses” on 34. These houses were built for people to recuperate, but he believes that “cowards built them”: “cowards” that don’t want to recognize the harsh realities of war and build these places to escape instead.

    So all-in-all, the beach here acts as an irony: the relaxing paradise filled with nothing but reminders of what took place away from it.

  2. When I was reading it, I thought about different faces of trauma. The woman looks innocent, is compared to a child’s wholesome beauty but she is just as shaken, conflicted, and distraught by the war. She is a changed person, but from looking at her from the outside, you might not get that impression. Then we have the soldier, whose physical injury mars his outside appearance. I don’t know if that helps, but those were some of my thoughts from the small group discussions last class.

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