RARA-AVIS: Chandler in the army

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 17 Dec 2003

This is a bit of an experiment to see if I can now post from my office computer.

Although I think the financial allotment to his mother is most likely the key motive for traveling north to join the Canadian army once the U.S. entered WW I, I will throw out one other that is pure speculation. With his background, Chandler would have stood out as an oddity in US army training. Basic training is a very cruel world where those who are different can be subject to serious hazing. As an aside, I have long been of the opinion that basic training is fundamentally the same no matter what the service or what the time period. Details change but the process is the same. I first came to this realization when reading T.E. Lawrence's THE MINT, which covers post WWI training as a private under an assumed name, and saw the similarities with my own training in another army fifty years later.

  After the war, Chandler told people that a "British uniform" was more "natural" to him and it is certainly true that the Canadian army was a better fit for him in many ways.

Still, I am persuaded that given the fact that he was leaving his mother alone in L.A., the financial allotment was likely an important consideration in choosing Canadian service. Chandler was a man who took his obligations seriously, unlike Hammett who was not a dependable husband or father.

I think his story of being turned down by the American army for poor eyesight was likely a polite fiction that closed off the need for any other explanation.

Richard Moore

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