The Wounded find Ricky Belisle and Marie-Jeanne Charbonneau have left their remote Lake Superior village, a world circumscribed by Life Magazine and the Saturday Evening Post, the radio, stories told around a kitchen table during winter storms, and such news as an occasional visitor might bring from the city.
Marie-Jeanne, younger by months than Ricky, wiser by years, understood that two created such meaning as vague words––love, respect, sharing, kindness––conveyed through shared experience; a cup of coffee, a sunset, a birth. M.J. saw the world built in this order: man and wife, immediate and extended family, community, nation.
Richard, however, would be judged worthy by "them," the men in his clan, his tribe, his nation. Yet, truth be told, that wasn't the complete calculation, if calculation there were. In the eyes of most, Ricky had proven himself worthy. It wasn't enough. He would prove himself worthy of his childhood friend by clearing the debt his parents took on for his sin. And, had his priest been wiser or better read, he might have introduced the young man to the teachings of St. Augustine, "Lord, make me chaste, but not yet."
Ricky Belisle makes his way across the American south seeking redemption and adventure. Soldiering, the family profession, is no longer available; it is the nuclear age. He plays baseball, is jailed, injured, laid low. M.J. finds him on a Colorado mountain recovering from injuries to body and soul. Indifferent nature tests them yet again.