Joe remembers a day when the Englishmen glimpsed a German soldier stumbling blindly out in the open and decided to shoot at him. The soldier was killed, but he remained hanging on the barbed wire not far from the English regiment's trenches. The dead German began to smell, so an English corporal passing through the area ordered the regiment's leader, Corporal Timlon, to bury the German. Timlon did bury the German, but then the area was shelled and the buried German resurfaced, hanging on the barbed wire again.

At this point, the Englishmen named the German man "Lazarus." The colonel came back through and ordered Lazarus buried again, this time with a full Church of England funeral service said over the body. Corporal Timlon obeyed and was shot in the rear end while reading the service. Several days later, however, the German body resurfaced again after shelling, and the Englishmen opened fire on the body. Shortly afterward, a young subaltern assigned to the English regiment snuck out on his first night patrol and stumbled into the body of Lazarus. The young Englishman went permanently mad and was sent to a mental hospital. Joe imagines swapping minds with the young Englishman, who is probably no longer using his healthy body.


Johnny Got His Gun continues to be paced peculiarly. An undefined amount of time passes between Chapter x and Chapter xi, while one year passes between Chapter xi and Chapter xii; the chapters themselves proceed at pace. In Book I, we see Joe struggle to keep his sanity and to assert his consciousness against the onslaught of memories. Joe learns to recognize that he is remembering memories, not reliving them, and he learns to recognize the difference between sleeping and waking hours. The establishment of these mental boundaries allows Joe to feel like a conscious, thinking being again. Book II charts Joe's progress as a conscious, thinking being as he tries to organize his mental world.

The shift from a preoccupation the past to a focus on the future that happens between Book I and Book II also happens on a smaller scale within Chapter xi. Joe begins the chapter attempting to fill up his mental life with lessons remembered from his youth—mathematics, grammar, literature, religion. But Joe ultimately realizes that he never learned enough to make this mode of preoccupation worthwhile. Instead, he looks forward, deciding to try to teach himself new things. He works first on the project of telling time. Instead of trying to fill up the empty space of his time, he works to divide that time up into measurable segments.

In Chapter xii, Joe's internal world begins to come alive with details from the external world. He has also gained greater control over his memories. Instead of letting them wash over him while he is in a semiconscious state, Joe measures them out, using them to fill time, as with his repeated Sunday afternoon walks in the woods outside of Paris. Sometimes, he uses his memories to rehearse a story line, as with the memory of Lazarus.

The story about Lazarus begins as a tale of how different Joe considers the English to be, but it ends with Joe declaring solidarity with the young English subaltern: "wherever you are we have lots in common we are brothers." The Lazarus story again raises the idea of the decay and disgustingness encountered during war—a theme also touched on by Joe's rat story and dream in Chapter vii. The subaltern and Joe are not "brothers" because they were fighting together against the Germans, rather because they are both victims of the overwhelming bodily horrors of war. In fact, the Lazarus story emphasizes the fact that solidarity does not necessarily fall along battle lines: the Scotsman feels more solidarity with the Bavarians against whom he is fighting than with the English with whom he was fighting. Joe's story stresses the foreignness of the English regiment while creating sympathy for the wandering German, who is arbitrarily shot down and becomes "Lazarus." Solidarity in battle is not created by recognition of allies and enemies, but instead by mutual experience and recognition of the bodily horrors of war.