How Many Miles to Babylon – The Basics, Part II
November 2, 2017
Jerry and Alec go to fight against the Germans and are both stationed in Flanders. Due to class status, Alec is instantly made an officer whereas Jerry remains a private. Sergeant Glendinning is head of the operation and strict on authority and maintaining hierarchy within the ranks. Glendinning is unimpressed with Alec as an Officer and deems Jerry a ‘troublemaker’.
Bennett, an English soldier, befriends the two men and they go hunting together, against orders. Alec is aware of his inability to lead men into battle but is respected and liked. Glendinning continues to be unimpressed with this attitude and Alec’s fondness for Jerry. When Jerry asks to work on the horse lines he is refused.
Alec receives a letter from home: Alicia is upset with his lack of communication.
One night there is a noise out in the trenches, and Glendinning takes Alec to investigate. They find a dying man and Glendinning kills him, advising that he will ‘make a man’ of Alec. Then Jerry receives a letter from home suggesting his Father is missing. He reacts erratically and wants to leave to find him. Alec approaches Glendinning for leave approval for Jerry but he is refused.
Jerry leaves to find his father and on his return informs Alec that he is dead. Jerry is arrested and sentenced to death for going AWOL.
Glendinning advises that it will be Alec who will take charge of the firing squad. Alec goes to see Jerry in his cell and, to avoid the brutality of the firing squad, shoots Jerry dead there. Alec is seized by military police and sentenced to death himself.
The novel ends with Alec writing in his cell as he was at the opening of the novel.