Age: 27 years
Brother: Robert Wilson aged 15 years, exists only in James’ memory
Mother: aged 53, exists only in James’ memory
Father: died serving in WWI in 1918, when James was one year old
Born Charlotte North Carolina
Setting: Fixed Military hospital, German-Belgian border
James’ current physical condition: Because of being in close range of an exploding mortar, James is hanging on the edge of life and is in an impossible condition, one of which, theoretically, no man should be able to survive. James is permanently paralysed, has lost all four of his limbs, cannot see, hear or speak and is in the perpetual state of drifting in and out of a coma. Though there is no scientific evidence to support comatose dreams, when James is in his coma, he adopts thoughts and fantasies that could only be conjured from dream logic, while when he is conscious, we see a contrast in fantasies, a return to more rational thought and James questioning whether or not he is awake, as he has no visual, sonic nor tactile evidence to come to any settling conclusion. As James’ frustrated mind wanders, we see a very diverse range of thoughts, including James brother and mother, guilt for his long deceased father (knowing that he will die the same way his father did, meaning his mother will have lost both her husband and son through war), nihilism, lack of faith in humanity, philosophy of life and war, questioning of where he is, questioning of why he is in his current state and attempted and partially successful recollection of how it happened. These thoughts spontaneously turn into dreams, therefore becoming much more abstract illogical and psychedelic, though with the anesthetic of dream-logic, only the reader realises the change. During James’ dream periods, the story describes rapidly changing scenes of black and white, as many disturbing and nightmarish situations seem to happen around James.
Though this first chapter is entirely from James’ perspective, the rest of the novel is mostly, if not, entirely from the perspective of James’ 15 year old brother, Robert Wilson. After this first chapter, we will not see anymore of James, only of his family, who will be forced to endure the grief of James inevitable death.