Robert wakes up to find that it has rained. An old woman brings him a jug of warm water and some tea. He shaves his face and looks forward to washing the fleas out of his hair at Asile Desolé, the insane asylum where he and his men bathed when they passed through months before. Robert leaves the hotel and walks through the town, which is full of troops singing military songs, and is reminded of a Saturday crowd at a football game.
Water is an ongoing symbol of change throughout the novel—the rain, bathwater, and tea in this scene all foreshadow a significant change in Robert’s life. Given that he is focused on memories of his childhood in this passage and in the previous two chapters, the water here signifies that Robert will undergo a further loss of innocence.