Unnamed Veterans of World War II

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Unnamed Veterans of World War II
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Unnamed Veterans of World War II
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Armed Forces

Veterans who have returned from fighting in the Second World War are a major element of the social landscape in the novel's second half. Goodyhay's unconventional congregation is made up mainly of vets, or their surviving parents and spouses; one of them wears a "barracks cap still showing where the officer's badge had been" to the church service (305). Because they know what "Devries's medal meant," veterans form an important element in the anti-Snopes coalition during the 1946 Congressional election (346). The novel refers to the housing development that Flem creates and calls "Eula Acres" as "a subdivision of standardized Veterans' Housing matchboxes" because so many of the new residents are ex-G.I.'s and ex-Marines (366). As Gavin Stevens puts it, almost immediately after World War II ended "the troops" began coming home "from all directions," and soon "the hero who a year ago was rushing hand grenades and Garand clips up to front-line foxholes, is now rushing baskets of soiled didies [diapers] out of side- and back-street Veterans Administration tenements" (365). In its account of Devries' political campaign against Clarence Snopes, the novel suggests that the young men who had gone overseas to fight the war were coming back without either the innocence or the prejudices they had before they left the county, and their more enlightened view can make a difference at the polls. There is no direct evidence, however, that the novel includes black veterans in any of these references.

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