Stanhope had earned the Military Cross; this is a symbol of bravery, one which does not go unnoticed. Stanhope also had three years of experience in the war, one year of which was as a company commander. He has a large reputation with his officers and men, and Raleigh hears many good comments about Stanhope being the best company commander in the battalion. Raleigh worshiped Stanhope as a hero at school that he had indulged in at school. It was a natural development that the brilliant rugby captain and house prefect should become a war hero.
Osborne knew that Raleigh still saw Stanhope as a hero even though Stanhope himself could not believe or recognise it. After Raleigh’s arrival, Stanhope reacts twice in act one to different things, but Raleigh seems to go on unknowing, oblivious to Stanhope’s change in attitude from school, showing that Raleigh admires Stanhope even more. Stanhope suspects that his dependency on the alcohol to keep him going will be reported Raleigh’s letter home makes him angry. This is only Stanhope’s view, however, Osborne tells him: ‘You imagine things’.
Stanhope is the corrected moments later when Raleigh’s letter s read out: ‘I’m awfully proud to think he’s my friend’ [this shows to Stanhope that Raleigh understands, But because of all Stanhope’s previous thoughts and the effect of alcohol, he is blinded from the truth. Hibbert’s one aim is to get away from the front line as soon as possible and to achieve this he feigns sickness. He prepares the ground as soon as he enters the dugout by refusing supper, owing to ‘this beastly neuralgia’. Stanhope is unimpressed and characterizes him to Osborne as ‘another little worm trying to wriggle home’.
The crisis is reached the following afternoon when Hibbert makes a etermined effort to report sick before the attack. He emerges from his sleeping- quarters to announce his departure and, despite Stanhope’s opposition, takes his pack and stick and attempts to leave. The confrontation between the two men is highly dramatic; Hibbert alternately shouts hysterically and pleads, and eventually he strikes his commander. The climax is reached when Stanhope threatens to shoot him if he tries to leave and Hibbert, with surprising control, faces being shot rather than going back into the trenches.
The comradeship engendered by the war is more than mere friendship; it is a special kind of bond partly imposed by the constant threat of death or mutilation: Hibbert:Do please let me go Stanhope – Stanhope:lf you went – and left Osborne and Trotter and Raleigh and all those men up there to do your work – could you ever look a man straight in the face again – in all your life” Stanhope finds himself looking beyond surface reality and a habit has grown on him of looking ‘right through things, and on and on – till I get frightened and stop’.
He has sensations of everything going farther and farther away until he is the only thing left n the universe and he finds difficulty in struggling back to normality. The feeling had come over him only that morning as he had looked across no man’s land and beyond: Stanhope:” was looking across at the Boche trenches and right beyond – not a sound or a soul; Just and enormous plain, all churned up like a sea that’s got muddier till it’s so stiff that it can’t move.
You could have heard a pin drop in the quiet; yet you new thousands of guns were hidden there, all ready cleaned and oiled – millions of bullets lying in pouches – thousands of Germans, waiting and thinking. Then gradually, the eeling came Trotter is fully aware of their situation and finds his own way to cope with it. Drawing one hundred and forty-four circles to represent the hours they must spend in the line and then marking them off one by one is, for him a device to control the anxiety he shares with the others; each circle filled in will bring the time of relief nearer and nearer.
We catch a glimpse of his deeper feelings in his conversation with Stanhope: Stanhope:” enw you Trotter. Nothing upsets you, does it? You’re always the same. ‘ Trotter:’Always the same, am I? (He sighs) Little you know He does not enlarge on this, but we are aware that under his happy-go-lucky exterior he is hiding the fears that afflict them all. Hibbert is the officer who cannot take it anymore.
He doesnt want to carry on; he wants to be out of the trenches as soon as he possibly can. He owes it to ‘this beastly neuralgia’. As the final attack begins, his lack of fibre is shown again. He delays going to his post in the trenches by asking for some water and drinking it very slowly, and he is only persuaded to leave by the necessity to accompany Mason from the dugout. Even Hibbert will not disgrace himself in front of a servant.