How rigid and insensitive are the rules of armed conflict?
The rules and regulations that govern the conduct of soldiers at war are collectively referred to as the rules or laws of armed conflict. In the story, the rigidity and insensitivity of such rules is portrayed at every point. The manner in which the dead are buried is the most insensitive way of showing the last respect for a fallen soldier. The soldiers’ bodies are disposed in trenches. They are buried together in the same pit. Under natural justice in any social order, it indeed is a matter of common sense that a dead body of a human being, soldier or civilian, should be buried in a sole grave or cremated; as the social background of the deceased may dictate. The fact that the ones burying the dead bodies term the burying process as cleaning up is clear evidence that they have been dehumanized by the ways of the military to the extent of gross insensitivity and rigidity. After the burial process, the soldiers leave. Some bodies are left scattered on the ground. They are eaten by swine and probably other scavenging creatures. As Captain Downing Madwell walks in the forest amidst the aftermath of the war, he comes across a friend of his. The man, Sergeant Caffal Halcrow, is in his last moments. He is seriously wounded and is about to die. It would have been prudent under normal circumstances for a sober man to make attempts of sourcing some aid for a dying man. Instead, Captain Madwell has to take the bitter step of killing his serviceman and childhood friend, thanks to the rigidity and insensitivity of the militaries.
What is the bond between Captain Madwell and Sergeant Halcrow?
The narrative is in a military setting. The three characters mentioned by name are: Major Creede Halcrow, Captain Downing Madwell and Sergeant Caffal Halcrow. The Major and the Sergeant are brothers serving in the same army. Apparently, Sergeant Halcrow is a very close friend to Captain Madwell who for no apparent reason has a sour relationship with Major Halcrow. It is not clear why the two do not relate well just as it is not clear why a Captain and a Sergeant are as close. In the military setting, it is so unusual for an officer to interact with a serviceman since the two belong to two distinctly different cadres in the military. In this case, captain Madwell is a commissioned officer while Sergeant Halcrow is a recruited serviceman. Even so the friendship of these gentlemen is brought out so clearly by the fact that, they are seen walking together and breaking the norms of the military to keep their friendship. The link between the two men is ultimately seen at the point where the captain finds his friend dying. The emotion that overcomes the Captain exhibits true friendship between the men. Madwell observes his friend and examines him carefully. He sheds tears of grief as he pictures his friend’s body being eaten by the swine that are already feasting on other dead bodies around the area. The fact that the captain takes time before killing his friend brings out the idea that he must have been considering a different step. The fact that he kills him also shows some bit of empathy and compassion since he could not take the idea of leaving his friend to be eaten alive.