In act one Sheriff presents Raleigh as an enthusiastic newcomer to the army scene. He uses Raleigh to emphasise how much the younger generation of men/boys were being influenced into helping out in the war effort. “Yes, rather! We were at school together” this shows the extent of how much Raleigh was oblivious to the effects of war on young boys like him.
Raleigh is also seen as what some may call the first stage of the effects of war. The change being from the innocent and polite schoolboy, that is a bit naïve, to a changed soldier like Stanhope who is drunken and lost. “I was frightfully keen to get into Dennis’s regiment”, this also shows how keen Raleigh was to join the war effort but also how dedicated he was. Sheriff uses this to, yet again, highlight the high level of propaganda and cruelty to the young men being led into the unknown battlefield at such a young age, even so tough that older men couldn’t handle the trauma and hardship.
Sheriff presents Stanhope as the second stage to the effects of the war. Stanhope is like Raleigh, he has the same burdens from the war but a much greater responsibility and the effects of this is what shapes his future and many other alike . Stanhope has a dependence on alcohol in order to help him through the strains and stresses of the war. “Without being doped with whisky – I’d go mad with fright” is what Stanhope says. Sheriff uses this to show a ruined human being who can’t cope without the alcohol in his system to dull his senses and give him the boost to fight for his country. However, Sheriff also seems to be hinting at the fact that Stanhope is selfish because he has been given the chance to go home to his fiancée but has stayed for the war. This could be seen a heroism or as an act of cowardice because if Stanhope truly loved his fiancée then maybe he would go home to her regardless of his problems.