She belonged with the pleasure-seeking crowds. He both envied and despised her, and was quite coldly determined to get her. They owed him something, all of them, and she should pay. He glanced at her. 'Shall we walk along?'
These lines are Prior's thoughts about Sarah Lumb in Part Two, Chapter 12, of the novel. On an excursion one day, Prior takes Sarah to the beach, where they see crowds of people, all trying to enjoy every ounce of beauty in the day. Everywhere Prior sees people with ice cream, laughing, and strolling on the beach. Sarah is pleased and amused by the scene. Prior resents her happiness; he feels completely excluded from the joy of other people. He contemptuously watches as these people, who have escaped Edinburgh for the day, also seem to have succeeded in momentarily escaping the war. Prior is envious because he can never mentally escape the war; everything brings back memories for him. Furthermore, he is not so certain that he wants to escape it; he feels he is betraying the poor men who are fighting by so blatantly trying to forget them. Prior's anger becomes focused on Sarah: as a woman, she has been protected from all the horrors of war. He is jealous of her ignorance and innocence, which affords her an unburdened happiness he can never achieve.