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In his opinion, military life had been kind to him, offered him a safe space, and a place to flourish. But in retirement he finds an existence devoid of both structure and glory. Thus he bounces around and expects the local populace to both revere and support him, something it is unwilling to do. In truth, they find the man to burdensome, irksome, and something that they strive to be rid of. In part, The General notices his awkwardness, his fall from grace, and even stares at it through his nakedness every morning, but then he puts his shell on, a shell he perceives to project excellence but only yields annoyance: “‘I do not like to offend people. I do not like to be a nuisance. You should have stopped me, sir’” (41). He offends people left and right, chasing them off at each and every turn while maintaining his overall ignorance to his actions.
So The General demonstrates the hazards of aging and the loss of dignity. He will never be the man of his past again, he is now the man that Frobisher cannot stand: “‘Get the hell off my premises, you bloody old fool! ‘Go on, Suffolk, hop it’” (43). This man does not woo the women he encounters, he frightens them. He cannot instruct tennis at a girls’ school, because he had urges to instruct the girls in other matters. No one wants him, he is fully washed up and put out to pasture, only he has yet to come to grips with his new reality and where he will go from here.