How does Sherriff make this conversation between Stanhope and Raleigh partilcularly moving and significant? (p.88-91)
In this scene, we see Stanhope and Raleigh confronting each other. We are presented with two contrasting personalities- volcanic Stanhope and restrained Raleigh. The duologe brings tension to boiling point, where Stanhope, is again presented by Sherriff as intimidating and radiating hostility through verbal assault and accusations and trying to manipulate people. Raleigh is perplexed by Stanhope's attitude but stands his ground, and does not let Stanhope push him around. Sherrriff creates pathos for Raleigh through his broken speech, Stanhope's interruptions and relentless questions, which creates sympathy from the reader's side.
When Raleigh enters the dugout, it is clear that he is uncertain of the reception he will receive. The silence on stage and his halting speech suggest tension. Sherriff's imagery expressed through the "rumble of the guns" foreshadows the explosive conflict. Stanhope starts the scene with mimicing Raleigh's answer to his question "You didn't think I-er what?". His repetition of Raleigh's hesitation makes him a bully, who is poking at a person's shortcomings. Stanhope counters everything Raleigh says with persistent questions: "And why do you think I asked you-if I didn't mind?", making it seem like an interrogation. Raleigh is confused and apologises, hoping to ease Stanhope's hostility towards him. This is slightly effective as Stanhope says: "Well, we've kept your dinner", but he tenses again as he finds out that Raleigh ate with the soldiers: "Are you telling me- you've been feeding with the men?". Stanhope intimidates Raleigh by turning his words around, "So you take orders from Sergeat Baker, do you?", insinuating that Raleigh ignores Stanhope's orders. Here, Stanhope tries to belittle Raleigh and infuse guilt, when he asks: "You eat the men's rations when there's barely enough for each man?", portraying Raleigh as a heartless and selfish person for "prowling".
Afterwards, Stanhope implies that Raleigh is a slow person, saying that he though that Raleigh " 'd have the common sense to leave the men alone to their meals", again, humbling Raleigh to assert his authority. Stanhope says that Raleigh is making the officers look like the laughing stock- "My officers are here to be respected- not laughed at", which again hints that Raleigh is trying to sabotage the company. At this point, Raleigh stops being meek and starts questioning Stanhope to defend himself: "Why did they ask me- if they didn't mean it?". However, Stanhope takes it as Raleigh trying to be smart: "So you know more about my men than I do?". This is a very tense moment accentuated by the silence in the background. Raleigh emboldens and faces Stanhope squarely, demonstrating that he is not intimidated by Stanhope; he further displays this by apologising "if [he] was wrong". The conditional clause indicates that this qualifying apology is insincere. Stanhope is out of control when he shouts an order to Raleigh to sit; this position, with Stanhope towering over Raleigh, gives Stanhope…