Although I suppose the entire story is metaphor for the way society is going to hell in a handbasket, Sharpe doesn’t seem to use a lot of metaphor–or else it’s beyond the scope of my intelligence to catch. But this one is kind of neat:
"Get the hell away from me, you lump of foul deformity," she says quietly. He does not answer her in words, but through the black cloth of grief that enshrouds her thighs, he tries to nuzzle them with his asymmetrically positioned wooden antlers, two end of a stick that’s displaced a slender stick-shaped horizontal column of his brain, a stick whose effects on that singular organ can be seen, I think, all over this room. (p. 305)
This is Pocahontas’ description of Penelope Ratcliffe, whose son John was killed in VA, and who’s first and second husbands have just been killed by Martin, whom she addresses here. Now Martin’s in rough shape himself. He is legless after a battle and he’s survived with an arrow through his brain–left in as we all know that to dislodge it would surely cause his death. To carry that further, it may be construed to mean that the concept of war, the arrow, will never be removed from human nature.
Pocahontas–whose common sense philosophy and view of life has gotten to me–says: "…a stick whose effects on that singular organ can be seen, I think, all over this room." While she is on the surface referring to the effects of the arrow on Martin’s brain and his subsequent murdering of the two leaders, I believe Sharpe’s reference is more global. The arrow–a symbol of war and fighting–has the effect on the mind of mankind and always will lead to death and devastation.