The cadets complain of hunger. Cyrano tries to entertain them with his wit, but when even he cannot cheer them up, he asks an old piper to play some familiar Provencal songs for them and speaks to them of home. When Carbon protests that Cyrano is making them cry, Cyrano responds that it is nobler to cry from homesickness than it is to cry from hunger, because homesickness is moral and hunger is physical.
These scenes provide Rostand the opportunity to work in some of the lovely folk songs from southern France, and they also point up Cyrano's leadership among the cadets. It is he who is resourceful enough to cheer them. The observation that it is nobler to cry from homesickness than hunger is an interesting bit of philosophy. It is also good psychology as well, since a desire to live to return home is more likely to sustain them than self-pity.