Journey’s End

by

R.C. Sherriff

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Osborne Character Analysis

The second-in-command to Stanhope. Osborne is a bit older than the other soldiers, but he is well-liked. In fact, he actually helps keep Stanhope—his superior—psychologically grounded, making sure to take care of his friend when he’s gotten too drunk. In many ways, Osborne serves as a fatherly figure to a number of the officers in Stanhope’s infantry, talking to them about the nature of war and giving them advice about how to make the best out of trying circumstances. For instance, he tells Raleigh to see enemy combat lights (called Very lights) as “romantic” in the way they light up the sky. This, he intimates, will help young Raleigh maintain a healthy perspective and some peace of mind. Still, Osborne is not without his own doubts, as he himself has trouble seeing the point of the war. At one point, he reads a passage of Alice in Wonderland aloud to Trotter, who says, “I don’t see no point in that.” In response, Osborne says, “Exactly. That’s just the point.” This, it seems, can be applied to the war itself, which keeps going on and on without actually changing. After every bombardment, soldiers like Osborne sit and wait for the next thing to happen—and the cycle repeats. Unfortunately, this cycle is finally broken for Osborne when he dies in a dangerous raid the day before the Germans stage a massive attack on the British trenches.

Osborne Quotes in Journey’s End

The Journey’s End quotes below are all either spoken by Osborne or refer to Osborne. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Journey’s End published in 1929.
Act 1 Quotes

OSBORNE: He’s a long way the best company commander we’ve got.

HARDY: Oh, he’s a good chap, I know. But I never did see a youngster put away the whisky he does. D’you know, the last time we were out resting at Valennes he came to supper with us and drank a whole bottle in one hour fourteen minutes—we timed him.

OSBORNE: I suppose it amused everybody; I suppose everybody cheered him on, and said what a splendid achievement it was.

HARDY: He didn’t want any ‘cheering’ on—

OSBORNE: No, but everybody thought it was a big thing to do. [There is a pause.] Didn’t they?

HARDY: Well, you can’t help, somehow, admiring a fellow who can do that—and then pick out his own hat all by himself and walk home—

OSBORNE: When a boy like Stanhope gets a reputation out here for drinking, he turns into a kind of freak show exhibit. People pay with a bottle of whisky for the morbid curiosity of seeing him drink it.

Related Characters: Osborne (speaker), Hardy (speaker), Stanhope
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

OSBORNE: You may find he’s—he’s a little bit quick-tempered.

RALEIGH [laughing]: Oh, I know old Dennis’s temper! I remember once at school he caught some chaps in a study with a bottle of whisky. Lord! the roof nearly blew off. He gave them a dozen each with a cricket stump.

[OSBORNE laughs]

He was so keen on the fellows in the house keeping fit. He was frightfully down on smoking—and that sort of thing.

OSBORNE: You must remember he’s commanded this company for a long time—through all sorts of rotten times. It’s—it’s a big strain on a man. […] If you notice a—difference in Stanhope—you’ll know it’s only the strain—

Related Characters: Raleigh (speaker), Osborne (speaker), Stanhope
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

RALEIGH: It’s—it’s not exactly what I thought. It’s just this—this quiet that seems so funny.

OSBORNE: A hundred yards from here the Germans are sitting in their dugouts, thinking how quiet it is.

RALEIGH: Are they as near as that?

OSBORNE: About a hundred yards.

RALEIGH: It seems—uncanny. It makes me feel we’re—we’re all just waiting for something.

OSBORNE: We are, generally, just waiting for something. When anything happens, it happens quickly. Then we just start waiting again.

Related Characters: Raleigh (speaker), Osborne (speaker)
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

It was all right at first. When I went home on leave after six months it was jolly fine to feel I’d done a little to make her pleased. [He takes a gulp of his drink.] It was after I came back here—in that awful affair on Vimy Ridge. I knew I’d go mad if I didn’t break the strain. I couldn’t bear being fully conscious all the time—you’ve felt that, Uncle, haven’t you? […] There were only two ways of breaking the strain. One was pretending I was ill—and going home; the other was this. [He holds up his glass.] […] I thought it all out. It’s a slimy thing to go home if you’re not really ill, isn’t it?

Related Characters: Stanhope (speaker), Osborne
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

OSBORNE: I remember up at Wipers we had a man shot when he was out on patrol. Just at dawn. We couldn’t get him in that night. He lay out there groaning all day. Next night three of our men crawled out to get him in. It was so near the German trenches that they could have shot our fellows one by one. But, when our men began dragging the wounded man back over the rough ground, a big German officer stood up in their trenches and called out. ‘Carry him!’—and our fellows stood up and carried the man back and the German officer fired some lights for them to see by.

RALEIGH: How topping!

OSBORNE: Next day we blew each other’s trenches to blazes.

RALEIGH: It all seems rather—silly, doesn’t it?

Related Characters: Raleigh (speaker), Osborne (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

I was feeling bad. I forgot Raleigh was out there with Trotter. I’d forgotten all about him. I was sleepy. I just knew something beastly had happened. Then he came in with Trotter—and looked at me. After coming in out of the night air, this place must have reeked of candle-grease, and rats—and whisky. One thing a boy like that can’t stand is a smell that isn’t fresh. He looked at me as if I’d hit him between the eyes—as if I’d spat on him—

Related Characters: Stanhope (speaker), Raleigh, Osborne, Trotter
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

If 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! [There is silence again.] You may be wounded. Then you can go home and feel proud—and if you’re killed you—you won’t have to stand this hell any more. I might have fired just now. If I had you would have been dead now. But you’re still alive—with a straight fighting chance of coming through. Take the chance, old chap, and stand in with Osborne and Trotter and Raleigh. Don’t you think it worth standing in with men like that?—when you know they all feel like you do—in their hearts—and just go on sticking it because they know it’s—it’s the only thing a decent man can do.

Related Characters: Stanhope (speaker), Raleigh, Osborne, Hibbert, Trotter
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

OSBORNE: Haven’t you read it?

TROTTER [scornfully]: No!

OSBORNE: You ought to. [Reads]
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale?
How cheerfully he seems to grin
And neatly spread his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!

TROTTER [after a moment’s thought]: I don’t see no point in that.

OSBORNE [wearily]: Exactly. That’s just the point.

Related Characters: Osborne (speaker), Trotter (speaker)
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

RALEIGH: Good God! Don’t you understand? How can I sit down and eat that—when—[his voice is nearly breaking]—when Osborne’s—lying—out there—

[STANHOPE rises slowly. His eyes are wide and staring; he is fighting for breath, and his words come brokenly.]

STANHOPE: My God! You bloody little swine! You think I don’t care—you think you’re the only soul that cares!

RALEIGH: And yet you can sit there and drink champagne—and smoke cigars—

STANHOPE: The one man I could trust—my best friend—the one man I could talk to as man to man—who understood everything—and you don’t think I care—

RALEIGH: But how can you when—?

STANHOPE: To forget, you little fool—to forget! D’you understand? To forget! You think there’s no limit to what a man can bear?

Related Characters: Stanhope (speaker), Raleigh (speaker), Osborne
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Journey’s End LitChart as a printable PDF.
Journey’s End PDF

Osborne Character Timeline in Journey’s End

The timeline below shows where the character Osborne appears in Journey’s End. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
...“Tick!—Tock!—wind up the clock, / And we’ll start the day over again.” As he finishes, Osborne descends into the dugout, and the two men have a drink together. “Your fellows arriving?”... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Hardy mentions to Osborne that “the big German attack’s expected any day now,” and Osborne points out that it... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Osborne tells Hardy they’re expecting a new officer, and Hardy says, “I hope you get better... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
“When a boy like Stanhope gets a reputation out here for drinking,” Osborne says, “he turns into a kind of freak show exhibit. People pay with a bottle... (full context)
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
...running round and round that candle since tea-time; must have done a mile,” he says. Osborne says that if he were an earwig, he wouldn’t be spending time in the trenches.... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
...looks a bit “bewildered” by the squalid dugout. Nonetheless, he radiates a positive attitude, greeting Osborne as “sir” and gingerly accepting a drink of whiskey. Osborne explains to Raleigh that he... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Raleigh tells Osborne that Stanhope was the rugby captain at his school. When Osborne asks if Raleigh also... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Osborne adds that Stanhope is a “bit quick-tempered,” but Raleigh merely says, “Oh, I know old... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
Osborne and Raleigh discuss the fact that their trench is only 70 yards from German trenches,... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
...send into the air in order to “watch for raids and patrols.” Regarding these lights, Osborne says, “There’s something rather romantic about it all.” When Raleigh agrees, he adds, “You must... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Mason enters the dugout, interrupting Osborne and Raleigh’s conversation by informing Osborne that the can of pineapple chunks he secured for... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
Osborne breaks the tension between Stanhope and Raleigh by informing Stanhope that they’ll have to make... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Trotter and Raleigh go together to work a shift above the dugout. Meanwhile, Osborne and Stanhope decide which beds they’ll take while Stanhope drinks whiskey. When Hibbert (the fourth... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Osborne changes the subject, saying Raleigh is a “good-looking youngster.” When he reveals that Raleigh mentioned... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Stanhope shows Osborne a picture of Raleigh’s sister. “She is waiting for me,” he says, “and she doesn’t... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Continuing with his complaints, Stanhope tells Osborne that the idea of returning from the war and reuniting with Raleigh’s sister has become... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Trying to make his friend feel better, Osborne says that when the war ends Stanhope can return to his old life “as fit... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
...so he can control what his lover hears about him. “You can’t read his letters,” Osborne says, but Stanhope ignores him, drunkenly rambling about crossing out anything bad Raleigh might say... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
The next morning, Osborne, Trotter, and Raleigh sit in the dugout eating breakfast. When Osborne asks Trotter how things... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
The night before, Trotter tells Osborne at breakfast, he and Raleigh came into the dugout after their shift and saw that... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
Once Osborne and Raleigh are alone, they talk about Raleigh’s first night in the trenches, and Raleigh... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
After talking about rugby, Osborne and Raleigh talk about their German enemies. Osborne tells a story about how one of... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
...in and tells him to inspect his platoon’s rifles at nine o’clock. He then tells Osborne that he was recently talking to the Colonel, who told him that a German prisoner... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
Osborne urges Stanhope to not defile Trotter’s chart, saying that he spent a long time making... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
...going away—until you’re the only thing in—in the universe—and you struggle to get back—and can’t?” Osborne says this just sounds like a “bit of nerve strain.” Stanhope is glad to hear... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Stanhope turns his attention to censoring Raleigh’s letters, insisting to Osborne that he’s going to have to do this—especially after last night, when Raleigh came downstairs... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
...finally relents and puts the letter on the table without sealing it. When he leaves, Osborne says, “Good heavens, Stanhope!” Still, Stanhope holds his ground, saying it’s his decision whether or... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
...German fences, through which the raid members will be able to slip through. “I suggest Osborne, for one,” the Colonel says. When he asks Stanhope who else should go, the only... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
...Hibbert did leave, he’d never be able to forgive himself for leaving behind men like Osborne and Trotter and Raleigh. “Don’t you think it worth standing in with men like that?”... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
When Hibbert leaves, Osborne enters, and Stanhope informs him that he and Raleigh will be leading the raid on... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
Osborne suggests that Trotter avoid talking to Raleigh about the raid, saying that the young boy... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
...from the sleeping quarters, and together they go on watch. After they leave, Trotter tells Osborne that Hibbert’s eyes were so red that he thinks he may have been crying. Not... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
...go through the plan once more—the Colonel telling Stanhope they’ll question the German prisoner right away—Osborne and Raleigh enter the dugout. Stanhope encourages the Colonel to go speak to the rest... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
On his way out, the Colonel wishes Osborne and Raleigh good luck, saying he’ll recommend them for awards if they succeed and reminding... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
After Stanhope leaves, Osborne and Raleigh try to pass the time before the raid. They only have six minutes,... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Finally, the time comes for Osborne and Raleigh to depart for the raid. On their way out, Raleigh notices Osborne’s ring... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Raleigh sits on Osborne’s bed, and once he and Stanhope are alone, they look at each other in silence,... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
...God!” Raleigh finally erupts. “Don’t’ you understand? How can I sit down and eat that—when—when Osborne’s lying—out there—” Stanhope stands up when he hears this, and his next words are broken... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
...sir. ’E was conscious when I picked ’im up,” the Sergeant-Major says, placing Raleigh on Osborne’s bed. Stanhope orders him to go get two men with the stretcher, and though the... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
...promising he’s on his way, and when he’s alone, he pauses one last time over Osborne’s bed and “runs his fingers over Raleigh’s tousled hair.” Having done this, he finally climbs... (full context)