Sergeant Mitchem is the leader of the group, which can even be acknowledged from the start of the play. He is the true leader of the group and you can really see the leadership qualities stand out in the play especially when he has to intervene when Macleish and Bamforth are both at the ready to fight. He shows good leadership skills by being able to get the two back in order again. And proves again that he has good leadership skills by being able to discipline Bamforth verbally rather than physically.
But if you want to try and come it on with me I’ll tell you, here and now, that I can be a bastard. ” This symbolizes a warning to Bamforth that he is in charge and he will not take any messing about from him. He has to make sure that the all the men are kept in order and keep to the straight and narrow path and make sure that none of them get too worked up and to make sure he can keep them going on and to make sure that none of them want to give up.
We are able to see signs of the fact he is able to keep them calm and under control when Private Whitaker picks up a Japanese signal on the radio and the whole of the group see to be terrified and he stands out as the only one that is not scared. He also seems to be very annoyed about the fact that the whole of the group at the beginning were not bothered about the Japanese and after hearing an operator they are all scared stiff. “You’ve heard one slimy Nippo on the set and now you’re having second thoughts. ”
When the group has captured a Japanese soldier you are able to see that Mitchem does not really like what he is going to have to do to the Japanese soldier but in the situation he has the choice of taking the soldier back with them and risking him getting them caught and most likely all killed hence risking the lives of all his men or to just plain and simply kill the Japanese soldier. He is a true soldier by how he describes how he is going to have to kill the Japanese soldier, he does not put any emotion in it at all he just thinks of it as the army is, he does not even call the soldier a person he calls the Jap it. It’s a war. It’s something in uniform and it’s a different shade to mine. ”
Throughout the play you are able to notice that he is the backbone of the group keeping them in order and having a cool head when it’s most needed. Johnstone plays a very cold character during the play with a very hot head. In the play there is not a part where as a reader you could feel any sympathy for him. He does not like Bamforth in the group that is extremely obvious throughout the play and even at the beginning we are able to notice this where he gets into an argument with Bamforth. Too true, lad. Watch it. Watch it careful. I’ve had my bellyful of you this time out. ” He does not have any way of talking to Bamforth as Mitchem has which is why the only way he is able to control Bamforth is by physical force and by pulling rank. When they capture the Japanese soldier unlike Bamforth his attitude towards the soldier is entirely different to the view of Mitchem who does what he does because it is a war but by a strange and very violent hatred of the enemy that he shows on many occasions.
He seems to never stop being cruel to the Japanese soldier, he tears up the photograph the soldier has of his wife and his two children, he refuses to give him water and he seems to be not able to see any humanity in the soldier. He acts as if the soldier is a piece of dirt and treats him like it as long as he is alive. “It’s a bloody nip. ” He seems to be making it look like because he is Japanese he is not human he is different. During the conversation between himself and Mitchem he asks if he shall kill the prisoner and with the attitude he has had to the prisoner throughout the whole play it seems that he would kill him.
It seems by the fact he asks Mitchem that he is very keen to do so and that everyone relies on him to do the killing. Bamforth dislikes the British army and dislikes the war that he is involved in just as much. He seems to always want to have an argument with Johnstone and Mitchem as they are higher up in the army and he commonly questions Johnstone`s authority cheekily with sarcasm which Johnstone always rises up to ready for a fight.
He also seems to be well informed about the army and its rules and he always likes to use them against his superiors, which is usually Johnstone. “You threatening me, Corp? ” He always taunts the other men in the group when they do something wrong especially Whitaker who is struggling to get the radio transmitter working. “This boy couldn’t get the home service in the sitting-room. ” He also taunts Macleish who is also not very fond of Bamforth quite a bit during the play. “You chasing your second stripe already? Bamforth changes quite noticeably during the play when they have captured the Japanese prisoner and before this event he would have been possibly to a readers view the most likely to be the one who is picking on the prisoner. But instead of this we see a more humane character as his relationship with the Japanese soldier. When the prisoner is first captured he mocks a little but not a lot to amuse himself and treating him like an animal making him perform tricks for him by making him put his hands on his head and then drop them.
But when he sees the prisoner’s photographs of his children and his wife Bamforth seems to change from the beginning to a totally different character. And at the end of the play where they are going to kill the prisoner he is the only one who is ready to defend the prisoner and say to the rest of the group, “He’s a man. ” It shows how much of a dramatic change he has taken by the fact that he is ready to defend the prisoner with his life compared to the person he was at the beginning of the play.
Whitaker is a young soldier who is very vulnerable private and during the greatest proportion of the play is trying to fix the radio that has got a low battery. He is attempting to fix it in the face of all of the teasing which Bamforth is giving him. He is very jumpy which is probably caused by the fact he is nervous and he is also very inexperienced and when he is handed a sten gun by Mitchem as Mitchem and Johnstone are restraining Bamforth it is quite inevitable that a nervy Whitaker who has just joined the army is going to make a mistake and that mistake is that he shoots the Japanese prisoner.
This is because the Japanese who are near by because they have been picked up on the radio hear this noise and are able to locate them in the hut. This leads to the whole lot of them being killed but cannot be blamed totally on Whitaker who shouldn’t of been told to watch the prisoner because they should of known that he was very nervy and would most likely make a mistake.