"'It's rather sad to think that whatever happens, you and I can never possibly get involved in a war.'"
British propaganda poster World War 1
Public DomainBritish propaganda poster World War 1 - Credit: Savile Lumley

Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte belong to the generation that was just too young to have fought in the First World War, yet was old enough to be aware of its horrific carnage and suffering.

Sebastian's comment derives from the idea, prevalent in the war's aftermath, that such an event would never be allowed to happen again, and that the First World War would be the war to end all wars.

Waugh, writing Brideshead Revisited during the Second World War (in which he served), and portraying Charles Ryder as an Army Captain, would have been acutely aware of the tragic irony of Sebastian's words.