Lying in his dugout bunk, Robert thinks about how strange Levitt and Rodwell are, reflecting that everyone is strange in war and that “ordinary” must be a myth. Levitt, reading Clausewitz on War, again brings up the artillery and how it creates a “passive character” in men.
Robert’s analysis of Levitt and Rodwell hearkens back to Maria Turner’s commentary in Part 1, Chapter 3. Like Miss Turner, Robert believes that war can bring out the extraordinary in ordinary men, suggesting that war has a tendency to change people on a fundamental level. Levitt, too, echoes Miss Turner, believing that war makes people “passive” just as she believes ordinary men made the world “complacent” during World War I.
Robert feels instinctively afraid of sleeping and is unsettled by the surrounding sounds and smells of the dugout. He longs to escape into a dream or run away like Longboat, but thoughts of Taffler and Harris keep him awake.:”
Though Robert had romantic notions of war before shipping off, the reality of his duties as a soldier are traumatizing, rather than fulfilling; the life of a soldier is turning out to be more than he bargained for. Robert regresses to memories of Longboat, his childhood hero, because he longs for the innocence and freedom of his youth and the simple escape of running away.