"Soldier's Pay" is a novel that was written by the English author William Faulkner.
The book was published in 1926.
The story takes place immediately after the First World War and begins with the return home of some veterans who survived the tragic and devastating fighting in Europe. Among these is the young Donald Mahon, horribly disfigured in the face and devoid of almost all intellectual faculties: around him will unfold the whole story and he himself, silent protagonist, will become the symbol of 'dullness and of wickedness of war and time the same means that the author will use to highlight the difficulty, sometimes the impossibility of these veterans to readjust to civil life.
The drama that sees Donald at the center, is no longer his personal drama, because he is already already detached from life, but it is the drama that affects the characters around him.
The father, the Presbyterian chancellor, lives in the illusion of giving back to his son a minimum of human dignity and is convinced that his fiancée, Cecily, will accept to marry him, despite his grave infirmity. And it is precisely Cecily the character that Faulkner describes with greater care, careful to underline its beauty and sensuality, together with the superficiality and the frivolity, indices of profound selfishness. This is the stereotype of the young woman of the south, beautiful and spoiled, looking for a convenient arrangement, but reluctant to renounce love and sex: it brings into play all her weapons of seduction, sometimes bordering on cynicism and cruelty in his relationship with men. A Scarlett O'Hara a little 'more modern, but still in Atlanta, a city where life would seem, from this point of view, changed very little.
Cecily is not the only leading female character in this novel. Great importance have Margaret Powers and Emmy. The first appears as the reassuring and positive element, the woman who generosity is able to offer herself, but also to deny herself the desired love. Emmy, small, rough and almost at times a bit 'animalistic hides behind that total absence of femininity emotional and sensual charge of great depth. She is the only one who sincerely and unconditionally loves Donald.
The male characters are equally well defined in their negative and positive characteristics: from Gilligan, Donald's solid partner, to Jones, a maniac satyr who runs after all the women he has to deal with, to George Farr, madly in love with Cecily, to the point of marrying her and taking a definitely unhappy life with her.
What is known, reading this text, today is how much has changed not only the conception of women and their role in society, but also how the relationship between man and woman has fortunately significantly evolved, while still retaining unquestionable limits. Even the arts of seduction, which in the early twentieth century were entrusted to women, but in a subordinate manner to man, today find different means of expression.