Robert is horrified by the cramped, manure-filled, fly-infested stalls in the hold where the horses are kept. The Battalion C.O. is outraged that men and animals are being transported in the same vessel, since the soldiers risk contracting diseases from the horses. Despite these unsavory conditions, Robert finds that spending time in the hold cures his seasickness and he soon disengages from “the other life” on the upper decks.
The Battalion C.O.’s anger is ironic—whereas he is concerned only for his men, it could be argued that the true injustice is that the horses were forced on board in the first place. The horses’ living conditions are even worse than what the soldiers have been enduring, further demonstrating how war belittles the both animal and human lives.