The smart way to improve grades

Comprehensive & curriculum aligned

Affordable pricing from £10/month

Explore How Themes Develop in 'Journey's End'

In this worksheet, students will look more closely at how the key themes develop over the course of the play 'Journey's End'.

'Explore How Themes Develop 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

"Expected"... 

 

"Too damn quiet"...

 

"Soon"...

clock

"Two minutes"...

 

"Poor Osborne"...

 

 

"That's nearer"...

 

"Hit"...

 

"Darkness"...

 

 War memorial with cross and poppy

 

As well as understanding the key themes in 'Journey's End', it is important to consider how these themes develop throughout the play.

 

In the quotations above, we can see how Sherriff introduces the theme of waiting and develops this theme throughout the play to build dramatic tension.

 

We see a brief pause in the waiting as the raid is carried out and we learn that Osborne has been killed.

 

The waiting then begins again, but this time with heightened anticipation, until the final moments of the play when we see the 'Journey's End.'

 

Here, we can see how Sherriff develops the theme of waiting throughout the play and presents it as a repetitive cycle.

 

Now have a think about how some of the other themes are developed by Sherriff throughout the play.

Sherriff shows how men are psychologically affected by their experiences on the front line.

 

Sherriff employs the character of Raleigh to highlight how men joined the army with naive, idealistic views, but stresses that even the most hopeful men will struggle mentally with the horrors of the front line.

 

Select the quotation below that highlights Raleigh's loss of innocence and how he has been changed by what he has experienced.

"How can I sit down and eat like that - when (his voice is nearly breaking)- when Osborne's - lying - out there-"

"I resent you being a damn fool, that's all"

"My officers work together"

While fear plays a large part in the play, Sherriff celebrates the courage of the men fighting during World War One.

 

Who overcomes their debilitating fear at the end of the play in the following quotation?

 

"...looks at Stanhope for a moment, then with a slight smile, he goes slowly up the steps and into the trench"

Duty and honour is explored throughout the play. Raleigh joins the company at the beginning of the play, aspiring to be like Stanhope, who had been awarded a Military Cross.

 

However, after the raid, when Raleigh is awarded the Military Cross for his bravery his reaction is unexpected:

 

"Colonel: I'll get you the Military Cross for this! Splendid!

(Raleigh looks the Colonel and tries to speak. He raises his hand to his forehead and sways)"

 

What does this reaction suggest about Sherriff's attitude to the idea of duty and honour?

Sherriff shows that Raleigh has achieved what he aspired to do, being awarded for being a hero

Raleigh's reaction here shows that the honour of the 'Military Cross' does not do justice to the trauma experienced on the front line

Companionship is a theme explored through many of the relationships in the play.

 

The relationship between Hibbert and Stanhope develops interestingly, showing how companionship with other men during World War I would have helped men cope with the horror of war.

 

Complete the passage below to explore this relationship further.

Sherriff shows that Raleigh has achieved what he aspired to do, being awarded for being a hero

Raleigh's reaction here shows that the honour of the 'Military Cross' does not do justice to the trauma experienced on the front line

Sherriff breaks down the idea of social class and hierarchy as the play progresses. Match the quotation to the explanation, describing how the distinction between social class is disrupted.

Column A

Column B

Trotter's promotion as a non-public school educate...
"'You realise you're my second-in-command now, don...
The bravery and sense of duty of the working class...
"I swear I'll never go into those trenches again"
Hibbert's cowardice is contrasted against the brav...
"....appears from his dugout, fully dressed for th...

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.

As the play progresses we see the point of war questioned more and more. Some of the characters question the decisions of the senior ranks, showing that they don't agree with the strategy.

 

Which quotations below see Sherriff's characters questioning the strategy of senior ranking officers?

"It's damn ridiculous making a raid when the Boche are expecting it"

"Didn't you suggest we altered our plans"

"He said the present arrangements have got to stand"

"And even then our fellers 'ad to make the raid. It was murder"

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.

"It's damn ridiculous making a raid when the Boche are expecting it"

"Didn't you suggest we altered our plans"

"He said the present arrangements have got to stand"

"And even then our fellers 'ad to make the raid. It was murder"

After the death of Osborne, Sherriff highlights how important distraction and comradeship is to coping with the horrific reality of war.

 

The scene after the death of Osborne, shows the men sitting around eating, drinking, chatting and laughing.

 

In the stage directions below, underline the two words which show that the men are trying to create a light hearted atmosphere to cover up their true feelings about what had just happened.

\"Late evening on the same day. The dugout is lit quite festively by an unusual number of candles\"

Now it is time to have a go at a mini essay question to practise writing about themes in the play.

 

Remember to use quotations to support your points and try to link each of your ideas to the context in which Sherriff was writing.

 

Task: How is companionship important in 'Journey's End'?

 

Try to write three paragraphs.

  • Question 1

Sherriff shows how men are psychologically affected by their experiences on the front line.

 

Sherriff employs the character of Raleigh to highlight how men joined the army with naive, idealistic views, but stresses that even the most hopeful men will struggle mentally with the horrors of the front line.

 

Select the quotation below that highlights Raleigh's loss of innocence and how he has been changed by what he has experienced.

CORRECT ANSWER
"How can I sit down and eat like that - when (his voice is nearly breaking)- when Osborne's - lying - out there-"
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to spot the correct one? In the scene after the raid, we see the development of the idea that all men will be psychologically affected by the horrors of war. Up until this point, we've seen Raleigh as hopeful and using words such as 'excited.' After his first experience on the front line, notice how he's visibly shaken. His voice reveals how traumatised he is and he expresses confusion over how the other men can just carry on as normal. If someone as optimistic as Raleigh can be psychologically affected by war, Sherriff highlights how mentally damaging fighting on the front line was, with men coming home unable to deal with what they had witnessed.
  • Question 2

While fear plays a large part in the play, Sherriff celebrates the courage of the men fighting during World War One.

 

Who overcomes their debilitating fear at the end of the play in the following quotation?

 

"...looks at Stanhope for a moment, then with a slight smile, he goes slowly up the steps and into the trench"

CORRECT ANSWER
Hibbert
EDDIE SAYS
Hibbert is presented as one of the most fearful characters in the play, begging to be sent away for treatment when actually he's paralysed with fear. Earlier in the play he states that he won't go into the trenches again. Sherriff shows him going up into the trenches with his fellow men at the end of the play. Yes, we see hesitation and anxiety but all the same, he summons the strength and courage to join his men on the front line. Sherriff celebrates the sheer bravery of the men who fought during World War I.
  • Question 3

Duty and honour is explored throughout the play. Raleigh joins the company at the beginning of the play, aspiring to be like Stanhope, who had been awarded a Military Cross.

 

However, after the raid, when Raleigh is awarded the Military Cross for his bravery his reaction is unexpected:

 

"Colonel: I'll get you the Military Cross for this! Splendid!

(Raleigh looks the Colonel and tries to speak. He raises his hand to his forehead and sways)"

 

What does this reaction suggest about Sherriff's attitude to the idea of duty and honour?

CORRECT ANSWER
Raleigh's reaction here shows that the honour of the 'Military Cross' does not do justice to the trauma experienced on the front line
EDDIE SAYS
This is a tricky one! Raleigh has shown throughout the play that he wants to be a hero, as he perceives Stanhope to be. However, after being recognised for his bravery, Raleigh's reaction shows that this initial desire to be honoured for bravery is really insignificant in comparison to the traumatising experience on the front line. While honour and duty are celebrated by Sherriff, we perhaps see him here questioning whether men's bravery in World War I has really been accurately recognised.
  • Question 4

Companionship is a theme explored through many of the relationships in the play.

 

The relationship between Hibbert and Stanhope develops interestingly, showing how companionship with other men during World War I would have helped men cope with the horror of war.

 

Complete the passage below to explore this relationship further.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This is an important change in Stanhope and Hibbert's relationship. Before this offer of friendship and solidarity, Hibbert felt alone in his fear and was unable to carry on. Sherriff highlights the importance of companionship here, between two men who do not necessarily like each other but, despite this, they show mutual respect for the suffering each is enduring and indeed recognise that fear is a part of every man's life on the front line. Companionship helps them overcome this.
  • Question 5

Sherriff breaks down the idea of social class and hierarchy as the play progresses. Match the quotation to the explanation, describing how the distinction between social class is disrupted.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Trotter's promotion as a non-publ...
"'You realise you're my second-in...
The bravery and sense of duty of ...
"....appears from his dugout, ful...
Hibbert's cowardice is contrasted...
"I swear I'll never go into those...
EDDIE SAYS
Well done if you managed to match them all! Sherriff completely destroys the idea that the heroes of the war were the public school educated senior ranks. Remember that, initially, only public school educated men could become Officers. This rule changed before the end of the war so that others could be promoted. Sherriff highlights the bravery of Mason, the working class servant who's ready and willing to fight alongside his men. Trotter's promotion is significant in that he takes Osborne's place, demonstrating that despite his working class background, he's brave and respected. Sherriff actually shows us more fear, cowardice and weakness in some of the publicly educated men, such as Hibbert.
  • 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 really sums up how Osborne feels the war has no point or no meaning when he responds to Trotter with "Exactly". Think about what it would be like to see men around you injured and killed and then the fighting just continues on with more and more deaths. The soldiers wouldn't have seen any progression or any reason for this devastation when the same things happen day in and day out.
  • Question 7

As the play progresses we see the point of war questioned more and more. Some of the characters question the decisions of the senior ranks, showing that they don't agree with the strategy.

 

Which quotations below see Sherriff's characters questioning the strategy of senior ranking officers?

CORRECT ANSWER
"It's damn ridiculous making a raid when the Boche are expecting it"
"Didn't you suggest we altered our plans"
"And even then our fellers 'ad to make the raid. It was murder"
EDDIE SAYS
Did you find all three here? Trotter's use of the word "murder" really highlights how much he disagrees with the raids the men are being sent to complete. He sees that the senior ranks are sending men in, knowing they won't survive. We also see Stanhope question the strategy in his conversation with the Colonel. Sherriff shows how many of the soldiers during World War I had to fulfil their duty, despite feeling that the decisions being made by senior officers were 'ridiculous.'
  • Question 8

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 moments of action were easy for the men to deal with.
  • Question 9

After the death of Osborne, Sherriff highlights how important distraction and comradeship is to coping with the horrific reality of war.

 

The scene after the death of Osborne, shows the men sitting around eating, drinking, chatting and laughing.

 

In the stage directions below, underline the two words which show that the men are trying to create a light hearted atmosphere to cover up their true feelings about what had just happened.

CORRECT ANSWER
"Late evening on the same day.
The dugout is lit quite festively by an unusual number of candles"
EDDIE SAYS
Notice how this celebratory tone is juxtaposed against the previous scene, which focused on the death of men in the raid. The festive lighting and "unusual" number of candles suggest that the soldiers are putting on a show, trying to bring some happiness into the dugout. The fact that they require such a number of candles for this suggests that the morale in the dugout is at its lowest, and the men are doing what they can to distract themselves.
  • Question 10

Now it is time to have a go at a mini essay question to practise writing about themes in the play.

 

Remember to use quotations to support your points and try to link each of your ideas to the context in which Sherriff was writing.

 

Task: How is companionship important in 'Journey's End'?

 

Try to write three paragraphs.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A paragraph might look something like this: Sherriff presents the importance of companionship through the relationship between Stanhope and Osborne. Stanhope is seen to struggle with life on the front line, resorting to drinking heavily, which was a common coping mechanism for men in the trenches. In his more vulnerable moments, however, we see the companionship that Osborne offers him, which is almost like a father figure. We see Osborne say "Now come and lie down. You've had a hard day of it", which presents him as a source of comfort and support for Stanhope. This relationship is all the more significant considering that Stanhope is above Osborne in the hierarchy as the commanding officer. Here Sherriff disrupts the traditional social hierarchy that was common in the army at the time to show that companionship broke down these barriers and that men supporting each other was the most important thing getting them through the horrors of war.
Try it ---- OR ----

Sign up for a £1 trial so you can track and measure your child's progress on this activity.

What is EdPlace?

We're your National Curriculum aligned online education content provider helping each child succeed in English, maths and science from year 1 to GCSE. With an EdPlace account you’ll be able to track and measure progress, helping each child achieve their best. We build confidence and attainment by personalising each child’s learning at a level that suits them.

Get started
laptop

Start your £1 trial today.
Subscribe from £10/month.