Raleigh in Journey's End


In the first few scenes Raleigh represents the naive believer in the kind of glorious war put forward by recruitment propaganda. When he is told he will be taking part in the raid the stage directions inform us that Raleigh speaks “excitedly”.

His final line in Act II, Scene 2 is “I say!”, with an enthusiastic exclamation mark. This shows how flattered he is to be chosen.

As a family and school friend of Stanhope’s, Raleigh glorifies his commanding officer as a hero figure. He doesn’t recognise that Stanhope is a broken man because of his war experiences.

Raleigh quickly realises the realities of war after Osborne dies in the raid, and he will not take part in the celebratory meal as a consequence.

Raleigh’s death scene is one of the most poignant in the play because he started out so naive and innocent about what war is truly like.


Raleigh is initially presented as boyish, exuberant and eager to please. He is described as “healthy looking”, in contrast to the pale figure of Stanhope.

He is young and his enthusiasm seems to prove Osborne’s theory that “a youngster straight from school” is “the kind that do best”.They have youth and energy and are not yet worn out by the horrors of the battlefield.

Raleigh is keen to take part in the raid - describing the prospect as “most frightfully exciting” - despite the more experienced officers knowing how dangerous it is. Sherriff uses Raleigh’s character to show what war did to eager young men.

Raleigh is fatally wounded in the final battle. When he is being comforted by Stanhope, he asks for a light as “it’s so frightfully dark and cold”.

In this way he seems to foreshadow his own death. Sheriff uses Raleigh’s demise to show how spirited young men with so much potential were wasted in war.