Is it just a chair?

In Return of the Soldier, West uses inanimate objects to aid in emphasizing attributes of her characters. For instance, she begins the story with a detailed description of a child’s nursery. This at first seemed odd and strange to me, but after finishing the story, I see how relevant her descriptions were. A particular object that I found a sort of interest in was the chair Kitty frequently sat in. It was called, “Nanny’s big chair” in both chapters I and IV and was located by the window in the nursery.

So what is the big deal about a chair? Maybe I’m strange, but I find chairs to be symbolic of the human individual. Chairs come any many forms, such as wood, plastic, or wicker, and they can be decorated in many different ways. This is symbolic of the diversity of humans. More applicative to the story, however, is the use of chairs. They steadfastly endure great weight in support of what is sitting on them. Kitty is frequently sitting in the story, such as the times when she was lounging in Nanny’s chair or hopelessly laying on the couch with her arm hanging down. I think that this represents the emotional load Kitty is bearing on her shoulders. She seems to still be grieving the death of her son and she has to find a way to cope with her husband having no recollection of her or their marriage. In essence, it is as if she is bearing the weight of another person. Chris’s memory loss does not only affect him, but greatly affects Kitty too. She has to carry the emotional load along with him, if not more so than Chris since she is the one who remembers their relationship.

Maybe the chair does not actually mean much in the context of the story. I do, however, see significance in how Kitty is sitting throughout most of the story and she, of course, must sit in a chair.

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