March 2nd, 1944
Dearest Mom and Dad,
I have just received the first two letters I have had from you for many weeks and am glad to hear that Burt is getting over his scarlet fever although I am a little disturbed to hear that you, Dad are not feeling up to scratch. However, I guess that when spring and summer come along again, you will feel much better.
There were some very surprising bits of news in your letter, though they only confirmed what I had already read in the "Surrey Leader". I told you about meeting a boy I used to go to school with and he gave me some of his old papers. I cannot quite understand about Mr. Barr. We must remember though that so far, he has only been accused and may not be guilty at all. Just the same, when I remember some of his sermons at White Rock, it becomes increasingly difficult for me to realize that he could even be thought of in that position. What a blow to Daphne if her father is guilty! All those lovely dresses she used to be so proud of and those trips to England that she was never tired of talking about, all bought with stolen money! I feel very sorry for her if it is true, she is such a lovely girl.
Mr. Woodward's death too was quite a shock. He went very suddenly didn't he? Everything is changing so fast there really doesn't seem any use me coming home anymore. I don't know anyone, I never see the familiar faces anymore. My friends are scattered all over the world and none of them are at home any more. Why was Dad dismissed from the Post Office? And why - if the job is open, doesn't he apply for the position? Surely he is better qualified than any other man in the district seeing that he had been working there already. But I suppose as usual, that Margaret Higgins will get the job because she has an inside track and a clear field. Well, I suppose things like that happen, and we must be English and ‘take it on the chin' until our necks are broken and then we still have our pride, we kept the old flag flying even though we starved to death doing it! We - Bakers, are a funny lot, English to our very backbones: only we don't know it! And I'm just as bad (if not worse) as all the rest of them. "Perhaps it would have been better for you to ‘eat humble pie' for a few months if it meant getting your commission" you said. Mother: do you honestly mean to say that you would have been proud of my commission if you had known how I got it? Would you have me transform myself into a ‘sniveling worm' - crawling on his belly to soft soap his officer's ego so that he could someday walk around in a smooth cap and stick out his chest every time an ‘Acy Doucey' saluted him and say to himself "I'm an officer. See - I have my commission?"... I'd rather die first!
And as for offering me advice, I wish to heaven you would - both of you, because sometimes I am so mixed up inside, I don't know where to turn. I know you have your heart set on me taking a college degree in the hopes that someday I can be a great man. I wish - please, that you would try to forget your great dreams and try to remember that I am only a common, everyday sort of fellow trying to get along as everyone else does. I am not a little tin god to set up on a pedestal. I have my faults - a great many of them, and I have my vices as well as my virtues like other people. I am not ‘one whit' better or more intelligent than the boy around the corner: in fact, I have come to the humiliating conclusion - after my fatal and disastrous results on the last exams, that I am not half as smart as you (and to some extent myself, I will have to admit) have thought me to be. There are so many things I do wrong. Oh Mother, can't you see I don't want to be pushed into something I don't want? I am lonely above all else: these five long, bitter years of isolation have done things to me. I can't point to one worthwhile thing that I have accomplished in my 23 years of living. I have been a parasite: a non-paying parasite. I want to work, to be able to say proudly "I am a citizen, I pay my way." I want freedom to choose, to go where I want - but above all else, I want companionship. I suppose we may as well face it: I want a wife, a home of my own and children of my own, something I can call mine and know that I am not lying when I say it. I have nothing, not one thing in this world do I possess that I can rightfully call ‘mine' because I have earned it. Can't you see I am sick of schools and studying things that are dead? I have been doing that all my life: dead things, inanimate corpses surround me wherever I turn. I don't want anymore books, anymore studying. I want to work with my hands and my head, use some of this restless, seething energy within me that keeps driving me onward. Oh I know I shouldn't talk to you this way and I apologize if I have hurt your feelings, but I have a tremendous store of energy to ‘blow off' before I burst... you have no inkling of my feelings of exasperation and frustration when I glance around and see so much waste and ridiculous ‘red tape' and time-consumption that produces no worthwhile results. It is humiliating to say the least!
I will enclose Mrs. Sayers letter again. You should take all her extravagant compliments with a grain or two of salt. She's from Cornwall you know: but I love her just the same.
I have read the Reader's Digest article you mention. It was very good. I must close now and get ready for parade tomorrow. Damn senseless: all this shining, spitting, polishing.
Love to all,