Throughout the play Journeys end Sherriff helps our understanding of friendship and loyalty. He conveys this understanding through the characters, complications in the plot and stage directions.
One way in which he helps our understanding is through existing friendships being forced apart by war. This is evident between Raleigh and Stanhope and there is a clear resentment from Stanhope towards Raleigh of him being there. We learn of this right from when they see each other in the dugout when Stanhope greets him by saying:
‘How did you – get here?’
The greeting towards Stanhope is not one of embrace, but more of shock. This is because, as we later in the play find out, of bitterness caused by Stanhope not wanting Raleigh to find out about his alcohol addiction. Here sheriff is showing that people change in war times and in Stanhope’s case not for the better. These changes force friendships apart, for fear of humiliation.
Another way in which sheriff helps our understanding is through deaths of characters which remind others of there friendship. This is evident when Osborne dies and Stanhope is upset, we can tell this by the emotion described in the stage directions
‘When Stanhope speaks his voice is still expressionless and dead’
This stage direction comes just after he is told about the death of Osborne. Before his death there had been a friendship however any sign of emotion were rarely expressed. The realisation that Osborne is dead, despite the likelihood of him dyeing at some point in the war, makes Stanhope reveal his true feelings. His ‘expressionless voice’ conveys a mournful tone to the audience, which help us to sympathise with the loss of his friend and helps us understand the true friendship between the two comrades.
In addition sheriff helps our understanding of friendship and loyalty through suffering and injury. At the end of the play Raleigh is injured