The Lovely Leave" is a war story written from the domestic point of view.
Set in the United States—most likely New York—during World War II, the story examines war's effects on a particular marriage, that of Steve and Mimi McVicker. What becomes more difficult than the absence suffered when the husband is away with his troops is his return home on leave from the army. Yet the tensions that occur between man and wife illustrate more than just another "battle between the sexes." This happily married couple recreates the cause of war in microcosm.
After Mimi learns that her husband has been granted a twenty-four-hour leave, she recalls a previous leave of his: "There he stood, in their little apartment, a dashing stranger in strange, dashing garments." Steve's strangeness was the first indication that all would not go well.