23 FEBRUARY 1940, Page 15

What do these young men think about when they stand

there looking out upon the snow falling? Is there any faith within them or any fire? Or is it just a dumb acceptance of the snow falling, and the interminable sound of boots upon wooden flooring, and the smell of stew bubbling all after- noon upon the kitchen stove? Even boredom has become a matter of discipline and routine. How little space remains for them between the fear of forgetting any of their duties and the exhaustion which remains when once their duties have been done. How little time in which to step aside from it all, to recall the days when their thighs moved indepen- dently of the thighs of others, when there was some choice between alternatives, when they could have sat there without a pressing time-table and considered the causes and the pos- sible outcome of this Unjust Necessity which holds them in its grip.

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