The Return of the Soldier

by

Rebecca West

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Kitty is Christopher Baldry’s wife. Kitty and Chris married about 10 years ago, in 1906. Kitty is beautiful, superficial, self-involved, and petulant. She is scornful toward lower-class people. Kitty also has an aversion to suffering and grief and avoids mentioning the death of her baby son, Oliver, five years ago. When Chris returns from the front with amnesia, she initially refuses to believe his condition, then becomes angry and depressed over Chris’s love for Margaret. Kitty is the only major character who is happy about Chris’s eventual cure, indicating her selfish and shallow nature.

Kitty Ellis Baldry Quotes in The Return of the Soldier

The The Return of the Soldier quotes below are all either spoken by Kitty Ellis Baldry or refer to Kitty Ellis Baldry. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nostalgia, Escapism, and Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Return of the Soldier published in 1998.
Chapter 1  Quotes

You probably know the beauty of that view; for when Chris rebuilt Baldry Court after his marriage, he handed it over to architects who had not so much the wild eye of the artist as the knowing wink of the manicurist, and between them they massaged the dear old place into matter for innumerable photographs in the illustrated papers.

Related Symbols: Landscape and Nature
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

Here we had made happiness inevitable for him. I could shut my eyes and think of innumerable proofs of how well we had succeeded, for there never was so visibly contented a man: the way he lingered with us in the mornings while the car throbbed at the door, delighting just in whatever way the weather looked in the familiar frame of things, how our rooms burned with many-coloured brightness on the darkest winter day, how not the fieriest summertime could consume the cool wet leafy places of our garden; the way that in the midst of entertaining a great company he would smile secretly to us, as though he knew we would not cease in our task of refreshing him; and all that he did on the morning just a year ago, when he went to the front. . . .

Related Symbols: Landscape and Nature
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Well, she was not so bad. Her body was long and round and shapely and with a noble squareness of the shoulders; her fair hair curled diffidently about a good brow; her grey eyes, though they were remote, as if anything worth looking at in her life had kept a long way off, were full of tenderness; and though she was slender there was something about her of the wholesome endearing heaviness of the draught-ox or the big trusted dog. Yet she was bad enough. She was repulsively furred with neglect and poverty, as even a good glove that has dropped down behind a bed in a hotel and has lain undisturbed for a day or two is repulsive when the chambermaid retrieves it from the dust and fluff.

Related Characters: Jenny Baldry (speaker), Margaret Allington Grey, Kitty Ellis Baldry
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2  Quotes

“Oh, I’ll take you up!” Kitty rang out efficiently. She pulled at his coat sleeve, so they started level on the lowest step. But as they went up the sense of his separateness beat her back; she […] fell behind. When he reached the top she was standing half-way down the stairs, her hands clasped under her chin. But he did not see her. He was looking along the corridor and saying, “This house is different.” If the soul has to stay in his coffin till the lead is struck asunder, in its captivity it speaks with such a voice.

She braced herself with a gallant laugh. “How you’ve forgotten,” she cried, and ran up to him, rattling her keys and looking grave with housewifery, and I was left alone with the dusk and the familiar things.

Related Characters: Kitty Ellis Baldry (speaker), Jenny Baldry (speaker), Christopher (Chris) Baldry
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

[Jenny] constantly contrasted [Margaret’s] appearance with the new acquisition of Kitty’s decorative genius which stood so close behind her on the table […] This was a shallow black bowl in the centre of which crouched on hands and knees a white naked nymph, […] Beside the pure black of the bowl her rusty plumes looked horrible; beside that white nymph, eternally innocent of all but the contemplation of beauty, her opaque skin and her suffering were offensive; beside its air of being the coolly conceived and leisurely executed production of a hand and brain lifted by their rare quality to the service of the not absolutely necessary, her appearance of having but for the moment ceased to cope with a vexed and needy environment struck one as a cancerous blot on the fair world.

Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

I covered my eyes and said aloud, “In a minute he will see her face, her hands.” But although it was a long time before I looked again they were still clinging breast to breast. It was as though her embrace fed him, he looked so strong as he broke away. They stood with clasped hands, looking at one another (they looked straight, they looked delightedly!), and then as if resuming a conversation tiresomely interrupted by some social obligation, drew together again and passed under the tossing branches of the cedar to the wood beyond. I reflected, while Kitty wept, how entirely right Chris had been in his assertion that to lovers innumerable things do not matter.

Related Symbols: Landscape and Nature
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

You may think we were attaching an altogether fictitious importance to what was merely the delusion of a madman. But every minute of the day, particularly at those trying times when he strolled about the house and grounds with the doctors, smiling courteously, but without joy […] it became plain that if madness means liability to wild error about the world, Chris was not mad. It was our peculiar shame that he had rejected us when he had attained to something saner than sanity. His very loss of memory was a triumph over the limitations of language which prevent the mass of men from making explicit statements about their spiritual relationships.

Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

I felt, indeed, a cold intellectual pride in his refusal to remember his prosperous maturity and his determined dwelling in the time of his first love, for it showed him so much saner than the rest of us, who take life as it comes, loaded with the inessential and the irritating. I was even willing to admit that this choice of what was to him reality out of all the appearances so copiously presented by the world, this adroit recovery of the dropped pearl of beauty, was the act of genius I had always expected from him. But that did not make less agonizing this exclusion from his life.

Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

Now, why did Kitty, who was the falsest thing on earth, who was in tune with every kind of falsity, by merely suffering somehow remind us of reality? Why did her tears reveal to me what I had learned long ago, but had forgotten in my frenzied love, that there is a draught that we must drink or not be fully human? I knew that one must know the truth. I knew quite well that when one is adult one must raise to one’s lips the wine of the truth, heedless that it is not sweet like milk but draws the mouth with its strength, and celebrate communion with reality, or else walk for ever queer and small like a dwarf.

Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
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Kitty Ellis Baldry Character Timeline in The Return of the Soldier

The timeline below shows where the character Kitty Ellis Baldry appears in The Return of the Soldier. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Nostalgia, Escapism, and Reality Theme Icon
The Traumas of Modernity Theme Icon
Kitty Baldry hasn’t heard from her husband, Chris, for two weeks—he’s on the Western Front, “somewhere... (full context)
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Jenny turns away, not wanting to intrude on Kitty’s grief, but Kitty calls her back—she’s just washed her hair and is only sitting in... (full context)
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Jenny joins Kitty and gazes out the window at Baldry Court, which architects transformed after Chris and Kitty’s... (full context)
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After Kitty wails to Jenny, “Ah, don’t begin to fuss” about Chris’s whereabouts, she studies her reflection... (full context)
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...wandered through the house and stables, gazed into the woods, and then stood sadly beside Kitty until it was time to go. Even as the car drove off, she’d seen Chris... (full context)
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...father’s death, he had to take over the struggling family business, and then he married Kitty, who is used to an expensive standard of living. Later, his little son Oliver died.... (full context)
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...someone’s card—a visitor has arrived. The visitor is “Mrs. William Grey, Mariposa, Ladysmith Road, Wealdstone.” Kitty doesn’t know anyone from Wealdstone, which Jenny describes as a “red suburban stain” between Harrowweald... (full context)
Social Class, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
At the top of the staircase, Kitty and Jenny look down and see a middle-aged woman in a yellow raincoat, unfashionable hat,... (full context)
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...fidgets with her purse and seems embarrassed. She’s heard from her maid, she explains, that Kitty doesn’t know about Chris—that he’s been hurt. Kitty’s and Jenny’s eyes meet in amusement—they both... (full context)
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Jenny can’t help feeling put off by the accusatory way Kitty begins interrogating the woman. When Mrs. Grey says that Chris has “shell-shock,” Kitty doesn’t react.... (full context)
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Finally, Kitty accuses the woman of trying to defraud them and dismisses her in shrill tones. Jenny... (full context)
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Mrs. Grey hands Kitty the telegram and explains that it was sent to her old home, Monkey Island at... (full context)
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After a while, Jenny tells Kitty that Kitty wasn’t of much help in clearing this up. Kitty knows that she seemed... (full context)
Chapter 2 
Nostalgia, Escapism, and Reality Theme Icon
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...getting the forwarded telegram, Frank left for France immediately and was surprised not to see Kitty and Jenny on the boat. When Frank found Chris in a Red Cross hospital, Chris... (full context)
Nostalgia, Escapism, and Reality Theme Icon
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...at Frank’s old-fashioned attitude and declared his intention to marry Margaret. When Frank asked what Kitty thought of this plan, Chris demanded, “Who the devil is Kitty?” (full context)
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Frank replied that Chris married Kitty Ellis in February, 1906. When Chris learned that it is now 1916, he faints. An... (full context)
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...take Chris home for the time being. In the letter, Frank urges Jenny to prepare Kitty for the coming shock. Kitty reads over Jenny’s shoulder and complains that Chris had always... (full context)
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...brought home. Until he arrives, a restless feeling of dread hangs over the house, and Kitty makes the maids cry. When at last the car pulls up to the house, the... (full context)
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When Kitty emerges from the shadows, white-faced and grimacing, it’s obvious that Chris has no memory of... (full context)
Nostalgia, Escapism, and Reality Theme Icon
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...dress for dinner, he initially starts toward his old bedroom, but Jenny holds him back. Kitty rushes over to guide him in the right direction, but they struggle to climb the... (full context)
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Later, when Kitty reappears in the drawing-room, she has changed her outfit. She wears a white dress similar... (full context)
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After dinner, Kitty scolds Jenny for playing Beethoven (“German music”) on the piano, so she switches to a... (full context)
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Chris speaks up, telling Kitty that he knows his behavior must seem insulting, but that he must see Margaret or... (full context)
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Chris and Jenny are left alone to talk, Chris seeming more relaxed in Kitty’s absence. Chris asks Jenny if all these changes—his age, Kitty, the house—are real. Jenny confirms... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...leaves, she sees Chris rowing a skiff around the pond. He feels uncomfortable being around Kitty and all the evidence of her work on the estate. Jenny finds it “dreadful” seeing... (full context)
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...wants so much to see Chris. Jenny encourages Margaret to visit, assuring her that even Kitty expects her to come. Margaret exclaims that Kitty must have “a lovely nature,” but Jenny... (full context)
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...Jenny is privately shocked; no one has ever pitied Chris in this way. She and Kitty have always made a pretense of creating the home of Chris’s dreams; but Margaret’s words,... (full context)
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...hat and air of suffering—with a decorative bowl on the table, which was chosen by Kitty. On the bowl is the image of a delicate nymph, forever occupied with nothing but... (full context)
Nostalgia, Escapism, and Reality Theme Icon
...collapse—or perhaps, she admits to herself, it’s jealousy. She wanders up to the nursery, where Kitty is sitting by the window, staring out at the garden. It’s a bedraggled, windy March... (full context)
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...gaze delightedly at one another and begin talking animatedly, as though resuming an interrupted conversation. Kitty weeps, and Jenny reflects that Chris was right; to lovers, many things don’t matter. (full context)
Chapter 5
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After Margaret is driven home, Chris comes to Kitty and Jenny in the drawing room and says that Margaret has explained things to him,... (full context)
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...man waiting for darkness to lift,” except for those hours he spends in Margaret’s company. Kitty, depressed, is like a “broken doll,” rarely getting out of bed. Jenny grieves too, spending... (full context)
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A week after Chris’s reunion with Margaret, Kitty, still bedridden, declines a walk and reminds Jenny that Dr. Gilbert Anderson is coming that... (full context)
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Jenny says that while it might seem as if she and Kitty attributed too much importance to Chris’s delusions, Chris appears to be perfectly sane, even while... (full context)
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Jenny sees herself, Kitty, and Margaret as symbolizing different types of women. Kitty is the type of woman who... (full context)
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...past week. One of them seems to have successfully hypnotized Chris, causing him to remember Kitty and regain his middle-aged personality, but as soon as the hypnosis ceased, Chris immediately reverted... (full context)
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Watching them, Jenny realizes that Margaret has been generous to her and Kitty, too. By placing Chris into “this quiet magic circle,” Margaret has created a pattern in... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...Margaret, and tells her they’ll talk later. He walks off with Chris. Inside the house, Kitty emerges in a nice dress, ready to meet a new man. Jenny wryly thinks that... (full context)
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The Traumas of Modernity Theme Icon
Kitty suggests that if Chris would just make an effort, perhaps he’d be cured. Dr. Anderson... (full context)
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Kitty argues that Chris lacks for nothing, but Dr. Anderson responds that there must be some... (full context)
Nostalgia, Escapism, and Reality Theme Icon
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...jarring memory would bring Chris back—like the memory of his boy, Oliver. The doctor is surprised—Kitty had not mentioned this. He says that Margaret must be the one to remind Chris. (full context)
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But then Kitty appears in the doorway, looking grief-stricken and clutching a little dog that she usually ignores.... (full context)
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The Traumas of Modernity Theme Icon
...the thought of the parts of Chris’s personality that will remain intact after the shock. Kitty comes in and paces fretfully, asking Jenny to see what’s happening outside. Finally Jenny looks... (full context)
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...to come—this cure means he will have to return to “that flooded trench in Flanders.” Kitty keeps begging to know how Chris looks, and at last Jenny tells her, “Every inch... (full context)