Though Williams offers Nash a “handsome salary” as a permanent employee at RAND, Nash isn’t interested in working for RAND after the summer. He wants “freedom to roam all over mathematics,” and to find this, he realizes that he will have to become a professor at a top university. Nash returns to Princeton, where he serves as a temporary instructor and research assistant (for a project run jointly by the Navy) while he looks for an academic job.
To Nash, who values individualism above all else, nothing could be more important than the freedom to seek out knowledge and meaning without restrictions.
As Nash leaves Santa Monica, the Korean War begins, and his parents write to inform Nash that he might be drafted. Nash is determined to avoid the draft, since he despises the idea of life in the army, with “its mindless regimentation, stultifying routines, and lack of privacy.” Nash enlists the help of two members of the draft board in Bluefield—where he returns before heading back to Princeton—whom he believes could help him obtain an “occupational deferment.” Nash files out a deferment form and is supported by Princeton and RAND. The draft board postpones his designation for active service until June 1951.
Because of his fiercely independent spirit, Nash is terrified by the idea of being drafted into the military and having to lead a restricted life as a soldier—a fear that comes back to haunt him when he begins to experience paranoid delusions later in life. Nash’s genius helps him to obtain a deferment, since his gifts as a scholar on the home front are deemed essential by Princeton and RAND.