Chapter 2 Summary
Colonel Lanser sets up his headquarters in the upstairs portion of the Mayor’s house. There are five men with him: Major Hunter, Captain Bentick, Captain Loft, Lieutenant Prackle, and Lieutenant Tonder.
Major Hunter is an engineer. "He was an arithmetician rather than a mathematician. None of the humor, the music, or the mysticism of higher mathematics ever entered his head."
Captain Bentick loves English culture. He vacationed in England before the war. He smokes English tobacco, reads English magazines, and keeps English dogs. He is older than most captains because he does not have the drive to move up the military ranks.
Captain Loft, on the other hand, “lived and breathed his captaincy. . . . A driving ambition forced him up through the grades.” He believes that being in the military and having a military career is the best thing a man can do, and he sees himself as a future general.
Lieutenants Prackle and Tonder were "trained in the politics of the day, believing the great new system invented by a genius [their country’s leader] so great that they never bothered to verify its results."
Prackle has a talent for drawing and dancing. Tonder is a “dark romantic,” a poet who imagines death on the battlefield.
Colonel Lanser has bitter memories of the “other war,” World War I (although it is not specifically named in the narrative), which his country lost. Because of this experience, he has a realistic idea of what war is—a violent, tragic, hateful undertaking. However, he tells himself that this time the war will be different. His men do not have this experience and therefore have an unrealistic expectation of what war is like.
Major Hunter sits at his drawing table designing a railroad siding. He orders Lieutenant Prackle to stop shaving and find the tripod for his drawing table. Captain Loft suggests that everyone should read Section X-12 in the manual...
(The entire section is 763 words.)