Robert in a way realizes that when he's put in charge of thehorses in the SS mannabie. The bilge was alive with flies, manure was left were it fell for days, hardly any light, urine everywhere, unbearable smell, rats. This could be compared to the life Robert hadin the trenches and dugouts which was yet to come, and even in the ship because the conditions were awful.
After spending some time with the horses Robert became intrigued with the world of thehorses, rats and bilge that had been consigned to his care. It took a life entirely of its own . Soon Robert became completely disengaged form th other life on the upper decks. even went below OFF DUTYfrom this point forward Robert acquires a sense of equality with the animals, for him they are more than a weapon or transportation, they are the same as him and are going through the same, they arelike brothers in war.
After this experience with the horses, theres a change in Roberts character, even though he was depressed and angry, there was the horses that gave him sanity to carry on without losing control of himself.
Robert keeps this calm through out the next chapters, and then he finds himself in a similar position when he gets to the dugouts, he meets Rodwell in him he seesRowena, a person that only wanted to do good, and did it by taking care of animals. He sees rodwell's cages in which there were animals that were injured just like the soldiers “They're resting. They'veall been injured. Thats his sort of hospital you see.” Devlin on Rodwell.
For the others Rodwell was weird, special, for Robert he was a little of him and Rowena.
Though out the meal the didn't...