NOVEMBER 30, 1942
HYDE PARK, Sunday—On Friday night we saw Thornton Wilder's play: "The Skin of Our Teeth." Everybody around me at the end of the first act was asking: "What on earth is it all about? It is amusing, but what does it mean?" Gradually, as the play progressed, one began to understand that the whole panorama of human nature was being spread out before one, and the last act is very impressive.
I think this play would bear reading several times after it is seen. It seemed to me that Miss Tallulah Bankhead, Mr. Fredric March and Miss Florence Eldridge and, in fact, the whole cast, did a remarkable piece of interpretive acting. It is no easy play to act, because the actors have to be so different and put different types across to the audience. I would have doubted its popular success, but perhaps we all like to be mystified. Certainly the audience is mystified through a good part of the play, and it surely is a popular success.
I had the great pleasure Saturday morning of spending an hour with Madame Chiang Kai-shek. I had never met her before, but I have admired her from afar for a long time. She is a very great personality, and I think as more people get to know her personally, she will do a great deal for her own nation here and for ours.
We have always been interested in China and the Chinese people and we have always patted ourselves on the back for what we gave to China. Perhaps, in the course of the next few years we shall understand that all relationships that are worthwhile are cooperative. You give more when you know how to accept in return.
A nation which recognizes what another nation has to contribute is naturally far more anxious to contribute the best it has to give. We have great things to contribute, we have also great things to receive from the Chinese.
One thing which Madame Chiang told me will interest the women of our country. She was talking to a wounded Chinese soldier who had just had his leg amputated and he said to her: "We are not fighting just for China alone, but for the liberation of all people who are downtrodden."
When a soldier in the ranks can cherish that ideal and feel that his own physical handicap is compensated because of the cause in which he fought, which is worldwide, then the cause is indeed a great one, and the rest of us throughout the world must be worthy of it.
I returned to the country in the middle of the afternoon and rejoiced all day in the blue sky and crisp, cold air, which gave a great sense of exhilaration.