In November 1915, Robert is sent back to Kingston, Ontario to study military law and trajectory mechanics. On the train ride there, he is struck by the sight of native Indians standing on horses by the railroad track and wishes that the passengers would wave to them. Passing through his hometown, Robert finds that he does not recognize his surroundings, as its former comforts have been increasingly industrialized to support the war effort.
The changes in Robert’s hometown demonstrate the significant impact that World War I had on society, as many quiet, idyllic towns like his changed to become more industrialized and focused on military triumph. In addition to reflecting the broad cultural shifts of the early 20th century, Robert’s disorientation is further evidence of his personal loss of innocence, as he cannot reconcile his childhood memories with his new surroundings.
In another transcript from a present-day interview with Marian Turner, she says that the Great War changed sleep for people everywhere, and that those who were born after World War I will never experience a silent, peaceful night in the city.
Miss Turner’s reflection suggests that Robert’s hometown is not the only place that was altered by World War I, as she believes that society as a whole became permanently less peaceful after the war.