At an isolated TB sanatorium, a closed community of all ages and backgrounds is subjected to an authoritarian medical regime with its echoes of concentration camps and experimental procedures. The stirring of rebellion against patient conformity acts as an apt analogy for the postwar erosion of class distinction and deference to authority. Evocative period detail in slang and music helps to illuminate this entertaining piece of social history.
Certain individuals she now believed seemed programmed to rebel even when they knew death was the inevitable result. They’d just had enough. Some like Lenny were outraged from the very beginning but their outrage didn’t last more than a couple of hours before it was beaten out of them ... The sick officers implicitly accepted institutional life and understood the nature of orders and obeying them, and so adjusted easily to their environment. A handful of anarchists would not fit, would not obey, but some of those were really just primitive types, criminals, gangsters often, not true rebels. And there were the rare few who understood that in rebellion lies freedom, not necessarily from the constraints of the environment, but of the soul itself. She had met them in another life, another time when the personality was forced into its starkest manifestation.