Rivers goes to consult with Head about his feelings of guilt. Head is surprised, and he reassures Rivers that there is no one person who could be more different from Yealland. Head tells Rivers that no matter how much influence he thinks he has, Sassoon has a mind of his own and it was Sassoon's personal decision to go back to the war.

Rivers talks about his trip to the Solomon Islands as an anthropologist. The natives asked him about his way of living; when he told them some of his culture's practices, they laughed uncontrollably because the things he described were so bizarre to them. At that moment Rivers felt incredible freedom, realizing that there was no measure of culture, of morality, or of right and wrong. It was "the Great White God dethroned."

Rivers returns to Craiglockhart for the monthly Board meeting and finds the hospital much quieter than when he left it. Anderson has worsened; he has not lost his fear of blood and he appears to be growing increasingly dependent on psychological help. Rivers visits Sassoon and finds him in his room in the same position as when he left him. Sassoon has finished a book, entitled Counter Attack, and has tried to remain out of trouble. He has also received some effusive letters from Owen, and he has begun to suspect that Owen had a crush on him. Rivers brings Sassoon the news that it seems very likely, if all goes well in the Board meeting the next day, that Sassoon will be sent back to France.

At the Board meeting the next day, they decide to give Anderson a desk job in the War Office rather than force him to go back to civilian medicine right away. When Sassoon comes in, he salutes the three officers and gives very satisfactory answers to all their questions. He admits that he has not changed his views on the war in the least; he is still very strongly opposed to it. Nevertheless, he considers it his duty to return to France and continue to serve his country. The Board agrees, and sends him back to active military duty.

Rivers says goodbye to Sassoon and reflects on the irony of the situation, that he himself should be changed so much by someone whom it is his job to change. Rivers worries about Sassoon, believing that he is going back to the war with the intention of being killed, that underneath his desire to watch over his men, Sassoon has a strong desire for death. Though Rivers has always respected authority, it is his turn to rebel. Morally, he must challenge a government that would kill an entire generation.


In these final chapters, Rivers is drawn to reflect on the existence of certainty and control. All of his life he has lived by the rules society has dictated for him, bound by abstract concepts such as duty and honor. Though these rules of gentlemanly behavior always worked for him before, in the chaos and horror of war he is forced to bring them into question. The military and the government in time of war work by basing their decisions upon certainties: "it is wrong to shirk your war duty," "it is right to sacrifice for your country," and "it is wrong to undermine the cause by publicly disagreeing with the war." By insisting upon these certainties, the government controls the minds and actions of men. Much like Dr. Yealland, it uses its arms and branches—such as Rivers—to force submission and conformity.