IT WAS STRANGE that neither when it was over nor a long time afterward did he regret that night. Looking at it from the perspective of ten years, the fact that Judy's flare for him endured just one month seemed of little importance. Nor did it matter that by his yielding he subjected himself to a deeper agony in the end and gave serious hurt to Irene Scheerer and to Irene's parents, who had befriended him. There was nothing sufficiently pictorial about Irene's grief to stamp itself on his mind. Dexter was at bottom hard-minded. The attitude of the city on his action was of no importance to him, not because he was going to leave the city, but because any outside attitude on the situation seemed superficial. He was completely indifferent to popular opinion. Nor, when he had seen that it was no use, that he did not possess in himself the power to move fundamentally or to hold Judy Jones, did he bear any malice toward her. He loved her, and he would love her until the day he was too old for loving--but he could not have her. So he tasted the deep pain that is reserved only for the strong, just as he had tasted for a little while the deep happiness.
Even the ultimate falsity of the grounds upon which Judy terminated the engagement that she did not want to "take him away" from Irene--Judy, who had wanted nothing else--did not revolt him. He was beyond any revulsion or any amusement.
He went East in February with the intention of selling out his laundries and settling in New York--but the war came to America in March and changed his plans. He returned to the West, handed over the management of the business to his partner, and went into the first officers' training-camp in late April. He was one of those young thousands who greeted the war with a certain amount of relief, welcoming the liberation from webs of tangled emotion.
— Owl Eyes Editors
“The war” alludes to World War I that began in Europe in July 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary. The war initially pitted the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey) against the Allies (France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, and Japan). The United States remained neutral until August 1917 and then joined the Allies in defeating the Central Powers in 1918. American troops did not arrive in Europe in significant numbers until mid-1918.
— Owl Eyes Editors
“Pictorial” describes something that is expressed in pictures. The passage suggests that Dexter paid little notice to Irene’s grief or possibly that Irene, bound by social conventions, did not make a scene or express her grief to him in ways that would live as pictures in his mind.