Robert is held under arrest at Bois de Madeleine hospital for two months before he is moved to England near the end of August. In September, he is tried in absentia and is allowed to go to St. Aubyn’s for convalescent treatment since he cannot be kept in prison. There is “virtually no hope” that he will ever be able to walk, see, or function normally again. Barbara d’Orsey only visits Robert once, but Juliet rarely leaves his side as he recovers from his burns, bringing him flowers every day and leaving an unlit candle by his bed.
The destruction of Robert’s body is a stark contrast to the handsome, athletic young man he was at the beginning of the novel and serves as a permanent reminder of the loss of innocence that he experienced during his time in the war. The fact that Juliet still loves Robert in spite of everything shows that she, like Miss Turner, does not blame him for his actions. Rather, she views him as a complex individual who merely reacted to the circumstances that he was dealt.
Robert dies a few years later in 1922, at twenty-five years old. There is a photograph taken a year before his death of Robert holding Juliet’s hand and smiling despite his disfigured face. Mr. Ross is the only member of Robert’s family to come see him buried. Juliet inscribes his tombstone with the following: “Earth and air and fire and water. Robert R. Ross. 1896-1922.”
Unlike Miss Turner, Juliet, and Mr. Ross, Robert’s fellow soldiers and his other family members view him as a dishonorable traitor rather than a hero. The novel presents the full context of Robert’s military experience bookended by his final actions in order to allow the reader to make their own assessment of his character. The moral ambiguity and “muddled” mythology of Robert’s actions reflect the overall disorienting, traumatic nature of war in its ability to normalize violence and death.