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Journey's End (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Raleigh, an 18-year-old officer, reports for the first time to Osborne. Raleigh reveals that he wanted to join the company because his sister is engaged to Stanhope. Osborne detects Raleigh's idolization of Stanhope and gently cautions him that life on the front lines has a habit of changing men. The raid goes successfully, and they kidnap a young German soldier. This pleases the Colonel, but Stanhope soon learns Osborne has been killed. Like Stanhope, Raleigh is stunned by the loss, but the Colonel has to strain to show his emotion, as he’s primarily excited to pass on news of the successful mission. When the Colonel finally leaves, Stanhope and Raleigh look at one another as gunfire sounds overhead.

In this passage, Osborne tries to warn Raleigh that his heroic image of Stanhope may not match Stanhope's present, battle-addled condition. The difficulty Osborne has in articulating the statement is significant, as it speaks to how Osborne would not like to undermine Stanhope's authority by spreading doubt about his mental condition, while he nonetheless wants the bright-eyed Raleigh not to grow disillusioned. In this private conversation on the subject of Raleigh's idolization of Stanhope, Osborne and Stanhope touch on the theme of heroism. Having looked up to Stanhope at school, Raleigh and Raleigh's sister turned him into a hero. However, Stanhope reveals in this dialogue his concern that Raleigh will see Stanhope for who he is truly is, having been damaged by the effects of war. Osborne sees things differently, and has faith that Raleigh will continue to see him as a hero, despite Stanhope's drinking and temper. To forget, you little fool—to forget! D'you understand? To Forget! You think there's no limit to what a man can bear?" Stanhope, Act III, Scene 2, p. 85 In this passage, Trotter blithely recites a grim rhyme about a mother reassuring her daughter at the sight of her husband being run over by a tram. This passage is significant because it speaks to the play's thematic concern with repression, revealing how soldiers use gallows humor to remain in high spirits when faced with the grim reality of war. I believe Raleigh'll go on liking you—and looking up to you—through everything. There's something very deep, and rather fine, about hero-worship." Osborne, Act I, p. 33

That night, Stanhope, Trotter, and Hibbert get drunk on champagne, which the Colonel and other officials provided as a reward. Hibbert drinks more than he normally does, and tells Stanhope that Raleigh isn’t celebrating with them because he’s with the soldiers on watch. This enrages Stanhope, and when Raleigh comes into the dugout, he asks why he would eat with the sergeants rather than the officers. Raleigh admits he couldn’t imagine feasting and partying on the day of Osborne’s death. He asks how Stanhope can do so, and Stanhope yells, “To forget! You think there’s no limit to what a man can bear?” She doesn't know that if I went up those steps into the front line—without being doped up with whiskey—I'd go mad with fright." Stanhope, Act I, p. 31 A tiny sound comes from where RALEIGH is lying—something between a sob and a moan." Stage direction, Act III, Scene 3, p. 94 When Stanhope enters the dugout, he’s stunned to see Raleigh. Rather than embracing him, he simply asks how he got here. He then turns his attention to Osborne and Trotter, another officer, and the group sits down to eat together. Eventually, the fourth officer of Stanhope’s infantry, Hibbert, enters and claims that he doesn’t know if he can eat because of his neuralgia. This obviously annoys Stanhope, who urges Hibbert to eat, but Hibbert goes to bed. “Another little worm trying to wriggle home,” Stanhope says. In this passage, Osborne repeats his earlier suggestion that Raleigh's admiration for Stanhope will persist, despite the war-damaged person Stanhope has become. This quote is significant because it reveals Osborne's wisdom; as Stanhope will see when he hears Raleigh's letter, Osborne's prediction bears true.

During dinner, Trotter decides to make a chart representing the remaining hours until he and his fellow officers can leave the trenches. On a paper he draws 144 circles, intending to fill them in as the hours pass. By the end of dinner, only Stanhope and Osborne remain in the dugout, and Stanhope is exceedingly drunk. He admits that he’s afraid Raleigh will write to his sister—who’s waiting for Stanhope to return—and tell her about his drinking. Stanhope declares that he’s going to censor Raleigh’s letters, and Osborne puts his drunken friend to bed. When Hardy leaves, Osborne sits down to a dinner made by Mason, the officers’ cook. At this point, Raleigh, the new officer, enters. As Osborne and Raleigh talk, Raleigh reveals that he knows Stanhope from before the war. He and Stanhope went to the same high school, and Stanhope was a respected rugby captain whose father was friends with Raleigh’s father. The boys spent summers together, and Stanhope started dating Raleigh’s sister. When Stanhope went off to war, Raleigh thought constantly of him as brave captain. When Raleigh enlisted, he even ­­asked a relative to help him get assigned to Stanhope’s infantry. Hearing this, Osborne realizes he should warn Raleigh that Stanhope has changed. Next the two men talk about Raleigh’s journey through the trenches to the front lines, which he says was an unnervingly quiet experience. Osborne confirms that it is “often quiet” there, despite it being one of the most dangerous places to be stationed. Osborne says they are just “waiting for something” to happen.

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