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As it turns out, the regiment doesn’t head for battle – not yet, anyway. This gives Henry days to sweat it out and wonder if he’s really a chicken.
His moods swing wildly, as they will continue to do for the rest of the novel.
Henry feels alone. He thinks that all the other guys in his regiment are either totally brave or totally chicken and hiding it better than he is.
There is much talk by generals of fighting, and also much talk of getting cigars, and much stroking of mustaches.
Finally, the men move out. Even though they are supposedly heading into battle, a circus-like atmosphere prevails. There is lots of joking. One guy tries to swipe a horse from a neighboring farm and its owner, a young girl, succeeds in getting it back.
(The soldiers were all on the girl’s side.)
The men camp for the night, and Henry plucks at blades of grass to denote self-pity. He wishes he were back home on the farm milking the cows that now (in his vision) "have a halo of happiness about each of their heads" (2.36).
Wilson, a.k.a. "the Loud Soldier", asks, "What the thunder is wrong with you, you thunder-head?"
Henry says to shut the thunder up. He again (so suavely) brings up the idea of running away, to test Wilson’s reaction.
The loud soldier says he won’t run, Henry asks how the thunder he knows, and the men get into a little spat before Wilson stomps off (or perhaps thunders off), leaving Henry more alone than ever.