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Keep the Home Fires Burning
"Let no tears add to their hardships
As the soldiers pass along,
And although your heart is breaking,
Make it sing this cheery song:
Keep the Home Fires Burning,
While your hearts are yearning.
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There's a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out
'Til the boys come home."
Ivor Novello & Lena Ford, "Keep the Home-Fires Burning"

Lots of stories are about The Hero and comrades as They Fight Crime. This story focuses on The Hero's lovers, family, and friends back home, often in a Lower Deck Episode, as they try keep normal life together and not go crazy from loneliness and worry. British examples will exhibit lots of Stiff Upper Lip. Romantic partners will find renewed determination that I Will Wait for You or succumb to Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder.

The usual portrayal involves families of the military and other warriors: soldiers are subject to long, distant deployments with little contact back home, and combat situations always involve the fear of injury and death. Families of police officers, sailors, and superheroes can also feel like this.
  • Police Officers & Firefighters: They get regular time off, and they're (usually) home for dinner, but the daily risk of death is still present.
  • Sailors (non-military): Long deployments in a dangerous profession, but with fewer enemies actively gunning for your sailor's blood. But there's always the suspicion he's got a girl in every port.
  • Superheroes: Arguably the most stressful for families of all. Regular combat deployment with little warning or time off, since The Hero is always "on call"; enemies out for blood; and if The Hero's identity is secret, there are few people their loved ones can turn to for support.

Can lead to Unfortunate Implications when the act of waiting is portrayed as passive, the spouse left to endure is Always Female, or the waiting person is put in a negative light as a Neutral Female — happy to stay home while The Hero wanders afield having adventures. Can also deconstruct the facade of a proud military family by realistically depicting the Stepford Smiler-levels of emotional stress and isolation that My Girl Back Home shoulders with Heroic Resolve, as well as the accepted but implicit pain caused when The Hero chooses Loved I Not Honor More.

Children's books about war naturally tend to concentrate on this, because this is where the children are.

The Determined Homesteader's Wife can be this, if she doesn't wind up the Determined Widow. See also Home Sweet Home.


Examples

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Comics
  • Spider-Man: Mary Jane Watson-Parker struggles between her desire to support Peter Parker in his role as Spider-Man and her real fear that this time could be the night she sent her husband out to die. This is notably a factor in the Kraven's Last Hunt storyline when for two weeks MJ doesn't know if Peter is dead.

Film

Literature
  • You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon is a collection of short stories focused mainly on the inner lives of U.S. military families waiting in Fort Hood. Fallon is herself a military wife.
  • "Penelope", a short and searing poem by Dorothy Parker, from the perspective of Odysseus's wife.
  • The poem "An Ancient Gesture" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, also about Penelope.
    Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight;
    And along towards morning, when you think it will never be light,
    And your husband has been gone, and you don't know where, for years.
    Suddenly you burst into tears;
    There is simply nothing else to do.
  • In a non-romantic version of this, in The Dresden Files novel Cold Days, when Harry goes back to visit Chicago, he finds, to his shock his Godmother, Leanansidhe has been keeping his obligations current during his absence. Due to the nature of the benefactor, he is more than a bit concerned.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Éowyn was ordered by Théoden and Aragon to stay behind in Edoras, she does not take it well.
  • Another non-romantic version: Hestia in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, who stands watch over Olympus while the other gods are off fighting. She even says the trope name in a discussion with Percy and Nico.
  • The last book in the All of a Kind Family, Ella of All of the Kind Family, has all the children doing home-front things during World War I. Ella and her best friend fit the romantic side; both have boyfriends in the armed forces.
  • Kate Seredy's The Singing Tree happens during World War II. The farm keeps on plugging with the news in the background, the father having gone off to war, Russian prisoners being brought in to work, and War Refugees, children, being brought to the farm so they could eat.
  • The last Anne of Green Gables work, Rilla of Ingelside, is about World War I in Canada. The central character is Anne's youngest daughter, who is not really the Love Interest until the very end.

Live-Action TV
  • Army Wives
  • The Highlander: The Series episode "They Also Serve..." focused on the Watchers, the mysterious organization who observed and recorded the constant warfare between the immortals but (theoretically) never interfered in the ongoing fights.
  • Bomb Girls
  • The family plotlines on Rescue Me exhibit this trope.

Music

Mythology

Web Original

Truth in Television
  • Ask any career military family.
  • Or any police officer's family.
  • Any nation with compulsary military service for a large majority of citizens, especially if there is a powerful and hostile neighbour. The stress and anxiety of those left behind after a major deployment is intense.

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