Invisible Heroes

November 28, 2012

From In Sunlight and In Shadow, Mark Helprin, 2012.

As difficult as it might be, she would hold steady…That was her task now, to hold through, with no guarantee, like all those in gray who filled the streets on the way to their jobs, anonymous from birth to death and thereafter, the little people, so called, who so often were as brave as soldiers and as great as kings.       p 323

When he first got off the truck, infantrymen in the line that had formed at the first station offered him a place in front because he was an officer, but he refused it.  It was expected that they would offer, and it was hoped that he would decline.  They appreciated this, and when officers were as filthy and ragged as they were, and despite their rank had not put themselves ahead, they would follow them wherever necessary.  It was the way it was supposed to be.   p 495

It was at least the tenth time he had brought the jacket in, always cut in the same place….She was grateful and at the same time somewhat resentful, for over almost a year the work she did for him served to keep her accounts in the black month after month, even if not by much….For him, whatever he was doing was not a duty.  Nor was it pleasure or displeasure, but only somehow written in.  Time after time he wold bring her the jacket he cut and she would gently reweave it.  Perhaps he took pity on her.  Perhaps, he had lost a son and seen her star, or had been commanded in a way he did not know, or was simply generous, as some people are.  Perhaps, after the war, he was a bit crazy, and thought that an exquisite woman sitting alone in a little shop was reweaving and repairing with gifted persistence not just the torn jackets, pants with cigarette burns, and coats with fraying edges upon which she worked every day, but the whole wounded and suffering world.      pp. 635-636

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