March 9, 1997
History Honors Period 8
A Critique of Gone to Soldiers
The novel Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy intricately weaves the lives of many different people into a connected series of individual plots that give the reader an exciting view of life during World War II. Piercy connects the lives of women and men, Jews and gentiles by using family ties and steamy love affairs. The people have dramatically different profiles, some are rich some are poor, some are Americans, some are French, some are with power while others are persecuted, but everyone is connected by the war. War freed women by allowing them to work in factories and defy their husbands by hiding resisting French Jews. Piercy makes history exciting by making each character really experience love and hate and the mundane daily struggles of the individual.
I completely enjoyed Gone to Soldiers, because several main characters prevented me from getting bored and kept me reading to find out what was going to happen to each person next. I really enjoyed the profile of Louise Kahan a female Jewish American writer, because she is independent and strong willed. An example of her strength and belief in herself Louise did not instantly return to her ex-husband Oscar even though they both still loved each other, because she was strong enough to resist him and his womanizing ways. Piercy gave me a much better understanding of the cultural and social issues of the World War two era. I learned about the little struggles of working American women, such as the unavailability of stockings and society's negative attitude towards women wearing pants. These issues were ones that I had never thought about before. It amazes me that only fifty years ago a woman could not wear pants to work. Ruthie's friend was sent home to change for wearing loose fitting red pants because they were considered racy. It is equally surprising to me that women still have to wear hose with our skirts or be deemed inappropriate. I do not understand how society has completely changed from a white male society into a much more diverse culture and still expect women to wear uncomfortable hose. Piercy made complete sense throughout the entire book and most importantly she kept my attention. Piercy's point of view was biased favorably towards American Jews. I enjoyed the book because it kept my attention on the individual lives of people in the midst of war instead of the battles fought during the war. I also liked the complicated weave of lives into one story like a patchwork quilt.
In conclusion, I enjoyed Marge Piercy's novel Gone to Soldiers, because it kept my attention with realistic descriptions of people with whom I began to really understand their feelings and thoughts. Other students should read this book if they like historical fiction, because it is so captivating. Piercy uses the individual as a piece of the whole picture, important but not the entirety of the work which makes this book so intriguing.