After training in England, Jim’s company—along with many others—makes its way through France. This is a long haul, and the soldiers’ legs cramp up as they sit in train cars watching the snowy countryside scroll by. One day, Clancy and Jim decide they want to get some hot water for tea, so they jump off the train and run through the “soft French snow” until they reach the engine car, where they ask the engineer to give them some steaming water. Once they retrieve this, they fall back and wait for their own car, their fellow soldiers cheering for them as the train slides slowly past. Jim loves this and knows that he never would have done it without Clancy. When they drink the tea, Jim finds it wonderful and delicious.
As Jim makes his way toward the war, he develops meaningful friendships. Although his world has changed significantly and no doubt will continue to do so when he reaches the frontlines, for now he can take pleasure in the beauty of his new friendships. What’s more, he seems to enjoy himself as he passes through these foreign countries, happy to be exploring new places that he would never have seen if he hadn’t left his old life behind.
As Jim and his infantry unit draw closer to the front, he notices a change in the landscape. All around he sees trains and telegraph lines and barbed wire and countless constructions that speak to him of “the increased potential of the age.” The entire scene reminds him of a picture he once saw in school of ancient Egyptians building the pyramids. Although his teacher had shown this picture to illustrate the cruelty of the Pharaohs and their stinging whips, Jim had a different “perspective,” “impressed” by the industriousness of the works in the same way that now he finds himself impressed “by the movement he [sees] all about him.”
For somebody who has until now been so weary of change, Jim derives a surprising amount of pleasure from the busy landscape that surrounds him. The fact that he’s so impressed by “the increased potential of the age” suggests that he isn’t as set in his ways as one might think. Rather, he begins to embrace the idea of transformation and technological advancement, though it’s worth noting that he has not yet encountered the violence and horror for which all of this has been built.