Abuse is a recurring idea in the novel not only because Sarah is a victim of physical abuse, but because there are many different types of abuse a person can suffer in a lifetime. From the early days of her life, Emily suffers the inequality of being the younger sister to a more beautiful girl. Emily is lost, ignored, and left looking for love in places where she should not. Emily is abused by a soldier who wants to make love to a girl, any girl, before he goes off to war. Emily is then emotionally built up and later destroyed by her first husband.