This miniature story or vignette is a description of a march to the Champagne region of France. The vignette is told as a memory. Everyone was drunk. The narrator was a kitchen corporal and was told to put out his light because it might have been seen.
This vignette emphasizes the surreal nature of World War I. Nothing seems real to this narrator; everything simply seems funny. He and all of the other men are drunk, as if to celebrate. In fact, they are even going to Champagne, which is also the name of an alcoholic beverage often consumed at celebrations. But, amid this good feeling, the narrator must be fearful and aware: He must put out his light. After all, enemies might see it. The combination of the revelry and chaos of drunkenness with the fear and anxiety of a march during wartime creates a surreal environment that the narrator cannot explain, only describe.