Other characters

Officer Bennett

Officer Bennett is a young man from England.

He shares an attic room with Alec when they arrive in Flanders. Despite being from a privileged background, Bennett has socialist ideas.

It is he who refers to those running the war as “The fat men at home” and suggests that “The war will end when they want it to end”.

His cynicism of the upper class men with power, and his friendliness towards Jerry regardless their different class, show him to be a likable character.

As soon as he meets Jerry he holds his hand out to shake it. Alec says “I liked him from that moment.”

Bennett shows no regard for the rules of his superiors when he gets three horses so that he, Alec and Jerry can go horse riding. He becomes a good friend to Alec and remains so until he has to leave because of sickness.

The scenes of affectionate fighting between Bennett and Alec remind us at times of the friendship between Jerry and Alec.

We never find out what happens to Bennett after he leaves, but his growing disillusionment with the war reminds us how the experiences of war did not live up to the promises of glory.

Sergeant Barry

Sergeant Barry is described by Alec as “having no liking for junior officers”. He is quick to report every misdemeanor to Major Glendinning and has no loyalty to any of the other men.

He seems particularly suspicious of the friendship between Alec and Jerry. When Jerry returns from being absent without leave and goes to Alec’s room, it is Sergeant Barry who brings the situation to Major Glendinning.

His harsh reference to Jerry as one of the “Bloody Fenian bastards” shows his attitude to men such as Jerry. It also reveals parallels with Glenndinning.

Sergeant O’Keefe

Sergeant O’Keefe is the officers’ orderly. He is a more sympathetic character than Barry and is good natured and professional in his relationships with the other men.

It is he who discovers that Jerry has taken refuge in Alec’s room after he returns from being absent without leave. When he opens the door Alec hears “O’Keefe’s respectful voice”, which contrasts immediately with the way that Sergeant Barry speaks to the men.

He enquires about Jerry’s wellbeing, and is prepared to help Alec avoid getting into serious trouble before Sergeant Barry comes along and their plan falls apart.

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