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Identify Key Themes in 'Journey's End'

In this worksheet, students will explore the key themes in 'Journey's End'

'Identify Key Themes in 'Journey's End'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   Pearson Edexcel

Curriculum topic:   Post-1914 Play or Novel

Curriculum subtopic:   Journey's End

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

      war memorial and cross with poppy              alarm clockglass of whiskey                  soldiers in trench

 

How do the images above reflect some of the themes that Sherriff explores in 'Journey's End'?

 

Some of the themes Sherriff explores are:

 

The psychological effects of war

Fear

Duty and honour

Companionship

Class system and hierarchy

Futility of war

Conditions in the trenches

Time, waiting and quiet

The horrors of war

 

In the exam, you might be asked to comment on the importance of a theme.

 

You will need to know which parts of the play explore each of these and will need to be able to locate key quotations which demonstrate these themes.

 

Have a go at the following questions to revise the key themes Sherriff explores in the play.

Sherriff shows his audience how men were psychologically affected by what they experienced fighting on the front line. Which quotation below explores this theme?

"They do send some funny people over here nowadays"

"Mustn't hang your legs too low, or the rats gnaw your boots"

"Lost control of himself; and then he - sort of - came to - and cried -"

"And think what a dear, level headed old thing you are"

Fear is another theme explored in 'Journey's End.' Which character does Sherriff employ to convey the devastating effects of fear?

 

"Every sound up there makes me all - cold and sick"

Sherriff presents the theme of duty and honour in the play, using different characters to present different ideas around the theme.

 

Match the characters below to the dialogue spoken by them, revealing their attitudes to the idea of duty and honour.

Column A

Column B

Stanhope
"I feel rotten lying here - everybody else - up th...
Raleigh
"Then you can go home and feel proud"
Hibbert
"Well, damn it, it's no good going up till I feel ...

Sherriff explores the theme of companionship throughout 'Journey's End'. The men are presented as a brotherhood, supporting each other.

 

Complete the passage below to learn about a key relationship in the play that explores Sherriff's theme of companionship.

Column A

Column B

Stanhope
"I feel rotten lying here - everybody else - up th...
Raleigh
"Then you can go home and feel proud"
Hibbert
"Well, damn it, it's no good going up till I feel ...

Social class is explored as a theme in the play.

 

Remember that, at the beginning of the war, it was only the public school educated who were allowed to become officers. This rule changed as the war progressed.

 

However, Sherriff distinguishes between the public school educated and less educated working class in the play. Complete the table below to show how each character is presented.

The futility of war is explored throughout the play.

 

After Osborne reads a section of his book 'Alice in Wonderland' to the men, what does Trotter say that reveals more about Osborne's true feelings about the war?

 

Remember to use quotation marks.

Sherriff presents the conditions of the trenches in a realistic way.

 

Click on the sentence that best summarises how Sherriff presents the trenches.

Sherriff presents the trenches as cold, damp, cramped, claustrophobic and dirty

Sheriff presents the trenches as organised and clean, with home comforts keeping the men comfortable

Waiting is also a theme explored in 'Journey's End'. Sherriff places a lot of focus on the passing of time and the quiet in the trenches. He presents the incessant waiting as an unseen horror of war.

 

Who is being referred to in the quotation below, highlighting the boredom men faced and the anticipation?

 

'....plan to make the time pass quickly. One hundred and forty- four little circles - one for each hour of six days. He's blacked in six already.'

Sherriff explores the many horrors of war throughout the play.

 

The violence is often suggested through the stage directions, where the focus on the sounds of war emphasises how close the men are to the enemy.

 

Complete the quotation below from the end of Act three, Scene three to show how sound is used by Sherriff.

Sherriff explores many themes throughout the play. Match the quotation to the theme explored below.

Column A

Column B

"All ready, skipper. Want me to go up?"
Companionship
"He looks anxiously at his watch"
Time and waiting
"Without being doped with whiskey - I'd go mad wit...
Fear and psychological effects of war
"Raleigh: Can you stay for a bit? Stanhope: Of cou...
Loyalty and duty
  • Question 1

Sherriff shows his audience how men were psychologically affected by what they experienced fighting on the front line. Which quotation below explores this theme?

CORRECT ANSWER
"Lost control of himself; and then he - sort of - came to - and cried -"
EDDIE SAYS
Did you choose the correct one? In this quotation, Hardy describes how he's seen Stanhope "lose control of himself." In this conversation we learn about Stanhope's heavy drinking and, as the play progresses, we understand how Stanhope's drinking is a coping mechanism to help him deal with the horrors he experiences each day on the front line.
  • Question 2

Fear is another theme explored in 'Journey's End.' Which character does Sherriff employ to convey the devastating effects of fear?

 

"Every sound up there makes me all - cold and sick"

CORRECT ANSWER
Hibbert
EDDIE SAYS
All of the characters express fear in their own way, some keeping it fairly hidden and some openly struggling. In the quotation above, Hibbert begs to be sent away from the front line for treatment for neuralgia. It becomes apparent that this is just an excuse and actually Hibbert is paralysed with fear to the extent that he states "I'll never go into those trenches again."
  • Question 3

Sherriff presents the theme of duty and honour in the play, using different characters to present different ideas around the theme.

 

Match the characters below to the dialogue spoken by them, revealing their attitudes to the idea of duty and honour.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Stanhope
"Then you can go home and feel pr...
Raleigh
"I feel rotten lying here - every...
Hibbert
"Well, damn it, it's no good goin...
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? Remember that it's a good idea to go back to the text to check that you are reading the quotation in context. Stanhope's conversation with Hibbert when he begs to be sent for treatment, really highlights the importance of duty and honour. Stanhope stresses the shame associated with not fighting along with your fellow men. Even at the end of the play, Hibbert's fear takes over and he still delays going up into the trench with his comrades - Hibbert is conveyed as someone who is disloyal and therefore less respected. Raleigh epitomises the idea of duty and loyalty and, even in his dying moments, feels that he should be up there doing his bit with his fellow comrades.
  • Question 4

Sherriff explores the theme of companionship throughout 'Journey's End'. The men are presented as a brotherhood, supporting each other.

 

Complete the passage below to learn about a key relationship in the play that explores Sherriff's theme of companionship.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you find who the passage was referring to? The quotation gives you the clue here. The relationship between Stanhope and Osborne is one of the most special in the play. Notice how, although Stanhope is above Osborne is the social hierarchy, it's the older Osborne who we see looking after Stanhope, who's clearly struggling. Sherriff shows us how important companionship was in helping men cope with the day to day horrors of fighting on the front line.
  • Question 5

Social class is explored as a theme in the play.

 

Remember that, at the beginning of the war, it was only the public school educated who were allowed to become officers. This rule changed as the war progressed.

 

However, Sherriff distinguishes between the public school educated and less educated working class in the play. Complete the table below to show how each character is presented.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Mason is perhaps the most obviously uneducated. Notice how his language is more colloquial and he speaks with an accent, and that his role is a servant to the other men. Trotter has also not been public school educated. The hints at the public school education of the other men come through in their conversations about school, where public school sports such as rugby and cricket are mentioned. This helps create a bond between the men.
  • Question 6

The futility of war is explored throughout the play.

 

After Osborne reads a section of his book 'Alice in Wonderland' to the men, what does Trotter say that reveals more about Osborne's true feelings about the war?

 

Remember to use quotation marks.

CORRECT ANSWER
"I don't see no point in that"
EDDIE SAYS
This quotation helps to reveal how Osborne feels the war has no point or meaning when he responds to Trotter's statement with the word "Exactly". Think about what it would be like to see men around you injured and killed and then the waiting begins again, followed by more fighting and death, and the cycle continues. The soldiers on the front line wouldn't have seen any progression or reason for this devastation and would begin to question their purpose.
  • Question 7

Sherriff presents the conditions of the trenches in a realistic way.

 

Click on the sentence that best summarises how Sherriff presents the trenches.

CORRECT ANSWER
Sherriff presents the trenches as cold, damp, cramped, claustrophobic and dirty
EDDIE SAYS
Did you check the stage directions? These are the best place to look for Sherriff's depiction of the trenches. In the opening stage directions, we see him using words such as 'Gloomy tunnels' and 'still, damp air' which are very evocative of a small, cold space, while the focus on rats later in the play really highlights the filthy conditions the men were living in.
  • Question 8

Waiting is also a theme explored in 'Journey's End'. Sherriff places a lot of focus on the passing of time and the quiet in the trenches. He presents the incessant waiting as an unseen horror of war.

 

Who is being referred to in the quotation below, highlighting the boredom men faced and the anticipation?

 

'....plan to make the time pass quickly. One hundred and forty- four little circles - one for each hour of six days. He's blacked in six already.'

CORRECT ANSWER
Trotter
EDDIE SAYS
Trotter's chart, counting down the hours, is just one of the ways that Sherriff highlights the boredom men faced, waiting for something to happen. It also however helps to build anticipation, emphasising the inevitably of the incoming attack. Sherriff conveys how men used methods of distraction such as this to help cope with the boredom and waiting.
  • Question 9

Sherriff explores the many horrors of war throughout the play.

 

The violence is often suggested through the stage directions, where the focus on the sounds of war emphasises how close the men are to the enemy.

 

Complete the quotation below from the end of Act three, Scene three to show how sound is used by Sherriff.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The simile of an "angry sea" shows Sherriff building the sounds up to a climax at the end of the play to emphasise the violence of the attack and to suggest utter death and destruction. This contrasts with the earlier focus on quiet, showing how neither the quiet moments or the moments of action were easy for the men to deal with.
  • Question 10

Sherriff explores many themes throughout the play. Match the quotation to the theme explored below.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"All ready, skipper. Want me to g...
Loyalty and duty
"He looks anxiously at his watch"
Time and waiting
"Without being doped with whiskey...
Fear and psychological effects of...
"Raleigh: Can you stay for a bit?...
Companionship
EDDIE SAYS
As you go back through the play, think about all of the different ways that the themes are explored. The way in which nearly all the men willingly go up into the trench to meet the incoming attack shows them fulfilling their duty. We also see much focus placed on watches and clocks in the stage directions. This reflects the theme of time as an important part of the play. Also, many of the men are affected psychologically by what they experience and fear is recognised in different ways. Of course, the ultimate symbol of comradeship is depicted at the end when Stanhope comforts the dying Raleigh, putting aside their earlier conflict.
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