How does the author create a sense of class differences throughout the play?

Expert Answers
davidwheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

He creates a sense of class differences in different ways.

Firstly, the way his characters speak: Mason and Trotter are lower in class than the rest of the main characters and Sherriff uses phonetic spelling to imitate their accents. In the UK accents are integral to class. Trotter has become an officer from being promoted from the ordinary ranks - as Sherriff was himself. This was rare but it happened more and more as the war went on because there was a shortage of young men from the right class to become offciers. It si nor just about the accent - Trotter and Mason have a much more limited vocabulary  than the other characters

Secondly through education and cultural reference. Raleigh, Stanhope and Osborne are all part of the world of public schools ( the British tern for fee-paying, private schools). You can see this when they talk abour playing rugby (not a sport then for ordinary schools and those from the lower classes).

Trotter does not recognize the poem that Osborne recites. Having said that, Osborne, because of his role as a the man that evryone trusts, is sensitive to thsi difference. This is shown when he discusses gardening with Trotter - gardening is a hobby that transcends the classes and will make Trotter feel more at home and confident.

samiaa1 | Student

Also the officers, especially the older ones amongst the bunch enjoy
gardening and they talk about the gardens they have at home, this
shows that they have hobbies back home of tending to the gardens. This
hints at a sort of romantic notion as they are gardening which is a
sensitive thing to do.

The officers use a different language than the soldiers, with slang
such as “Chap” and referring to Osborne as “Uncle”.

It tells in the book of how they are used to a privileged life style
as they talk about having servants, and even in the trench they have a
cook and cleaner called Mason, they are used to high quality food as
when they hear they are having cutlets for dinner they don’t seem too

One of the officers is unlike the others, he doesn’t want to fight for
his freedom, he tries faking a severe headache that cant be diagnosed
to be sent back to England to see his family, he sees sense when
Stanhope threatens to shoot him and say it is an accident and he

Much is learned about the officer’s class in Journeys End but most of
all it shows the difference between the normal soldiers and the
officers such as the food, the language used and the general
atmosphere between the officers.



hope this helps.=)


samiaa1 | Student

The officers shared the same kind of upbringing; all came from private
schools and were highly educated. Raleigh and Stanhope both came from
the same school and were friends outside school, often visiting one
and others homes. Osborne and Trotter have been working in different
jobs for a while before being drafted whereas Stanhope and Raleigh
came straight from school into the officer’s life. Not much is known
about trotter as he is not talked about much in the story but it is my
assumption that he was also from a private school.

Osborne and Trotter were both drafted as officers because of their
professions; they are both regarded highly in society. Stanhope and
Raleigh however were drafted as officers because of the professions of
family members, Stanhope’s father is a vicar and Raleigh’s uncle is a
senior officer, meaning he is most likely from a military background.

In terms of age of the officers, Osborne is by far the most aged of
the officers being called uncle says this quite clearly that they are
mocking his age in a friendly manner. Though Osborne is older Stanhope
is senior to him, many comments are made that Osborne should run the
company but Osborne sticks up for the young commander. Although
Stanhope is superior he values the opinion of his lower officers.

It is clear from the conversations that they all enjoy sport,
especially “Ruggers” or rugby as more commonly known. It shows that
they are all abundant in physical strength and it shows that Stanhope
has good leadership skills as he captained the cricket team in school.
Osborne however trumps him by telling Raleigh how he capped for the
England rugby team, but he swore Raleigh to secrecy so he may be lying
about that.

The officers are all fighting so that they can get back to their
families in England and get on with their lives. They are fighting for
their own freedom and the freedom of their families. However Stanhope
thinks that the war has changed him so much he will never be the same
when he gets home.

At one point Trotter takes out some dirty postcards to show to his
fellow officers, in today’s standards that would be no more than a
page three tabloid cut-out if not less, but their raising has taught
them that it is wrong to treat women so disrespectfully so they do not
look at the postcards.

The officers all trust one another but this trust is breached on one
occasion when Raleigh writes a letter and Stanhope demands to see it
thinking that he may have written something about him in it which
would alert his family to his change since he has been on the front

Officer values were the same in both the German trenches as the Allied
ones, such as on one occasion a man lay screaming in no mans land in
clear line of German fire and a German officer got up out of the
trench and shouted to come get him some help and get him out of
no-mans land.

Read the study guide:
Journey's End

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