In a final interview with Marian Turner in the present day, she remembers that Robert was brought to the hospital where she worked on June 18, 1916. Because Robert killed Captain Leather (and possibly Private Cassles), a Military Police officer was kept with him at all times, even during surgery. Miss Turner was outraged at the absurdity of this, questioning where Robert could have possibly escaped other than sleep or death.
Miss Turner is one of the few characters who is sympathetic toward Robert. Whereas the military has branded him as a dishonorable criminal, her perspective as a nurse allows her to view him as a complex human being. This difference in opinion shows that, like the war itself, Robert’s actions are not easily categorized as right or wrong.
In the hospital, Robert was barely able to speak due to his injuries. Miss Turner hoarded morphine for him from their low supply. She offered to assist him in committing suicide, but he replied, “not yet.” Miss Turner reflects that these words are the essence of life.
Robert’s comment is an optimistic response to trauma—although he has suffered immensely, he still has a will to live. Throughout her interviews in previous chapters, Miss Turner suggests that she does not blame Robert for his actions; based on this response, Robert does not blame himself, either, and believes that his life is worthy of living despite his actions. This sentiment echoes Clive’s hope in Part 4 that people will remember that those who fought in World War I were only human beings reacting to their circumstances. Robert’s actions, though drastic, could potentially be justified given the unrelenting trauma to which he was subjected as a soldier.