In William Dean Howells' story "Editha", gender roles are challenged and there are two completely opposite acting women that show the attitudes and views of varying women in the early 1900's. It is clear that the two women have very different views towards the war, as well as regarding life and death in general. It is also evident that Editha is not empathetic enough towards her fiancé, and she does not truly understand the intensity of war, the importance of life, or making decisions for oneself. .
Editha, the fiancé of George, and George's mother, Mrs. Gearson, had two very distinctive perspectives on the war. Editha was too young to truly grasp the intensity of the war and the trauma it could cause to somebody. When George told her that war had been declared, and she saw his negative reaction, she still tried to convince him that war was a glorious act. She thought so highly of the war, that she was thoroughly confused by George's seriousness and could not comprehend why he despised it so much. Editha thought very highly of George and knew that he had a very limited amount of flaws. Still, it seemed that she felt like him going off to war would be one thing that he needed to do before accomplishing his perfect self. She wanted her man to "be a hero, her hero" (113), and prove himself to her and their country. She looked at serving the country as one of the most celebrated things a man could do with his life. The brutal, violence of the war did not seem to strike her like it does most people. She never thought about the severity of that type of viciousness and how that would negatively affect someone. She had always believed in the gloriousness of the war and thought she knew better than anyone else who disagreed with her ideals about war. .
On the other hand, Mrs. Gearson had a very negative view of the war. Her husband lost an arm during war many years before, so she realized that war causes much more tragedy than it does glory.