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A comparison of the presentation of the psychological impact of war in Regeneration and Catch 22.

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Introduction

A comparison of the presentation of the psychological impact of war in Regeneration and Catch 22. Many of the young offices who enlisted in both armies saw the war as a noble task, a journey filled with honour and glory. 'There was only one catch', many of the men would suffer mental and physical effects from what they had seen and been part of. These effects ranged from nightmares to mutism and shaking. Many of those who did not partake in the action did not understand that the horrors the soldiers were witnessing would alter their lives forever. Regeneration by Pat Barker deals with the psychological impact of trench warfare in British soldiers in the First World War, whereas Catch 22 by Joseph Heller depicts the absurd and futile life in the American army in the Second World War. Not only were lives lost during both wars, but also soldiers suffered loss of their mental health and loss of their individuality. Within both novels there are two big contrasts in the way that Barker and Heller present us with the impact of war. Heller wrote Catch 22 from his own memories and understood how ridiculous the U.S government was and so in his novel he uses humour to ...read more.

Middle

Alternatively in Regeneration Dr Rivers is sympathetic towards the soldiers that he treats and cures them thoroughly before they go back to the front, even if this meant taking time and spending time with the patients, whereas a close colleague of his Dr Yealland uses electric shocks to get the soldiers fighting fit again quicker. Dr Yealland has no consideration for the pain the soldiers are already in by increasing their pain from the use of the electric shocks so that the soldiers get the 'stamp of approval' from the medical board. In using the term stamp it suggests that the patients are no more than documents waiting for approval from the government before they can be told they are well again. It also suggests that they are pieces of paper that can be discarded of at any time, which was true of many of the soldiers who ended up at Craiglockhart. After their stay many of the men did not see the action on the front because it could cause a relapse in their condition. Many of the men feel trapped by their commitments to the war. Although in Regeneration Sassoon puts up a protest to the continuation of the war he feels bound by the love and dedication for the men who serve in his division to get back to the front to fight with them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Part of the reason for his disillusionment is the manner in which Colonel Cathcart constantly tries to use religion to further his own ambition. Heller's treatment of the subject of God is most focused in the thanksgiving discussion between Yossarian and Scheisskopf's wife. Yossarian points out that no truly good, God would have created something as terrible as human suffering and pain. Yossarian has experienced so many terrible things that he cannot believe in a God who would create such a wide array of options when it comes to pain and death. Both World War One and Two obviously had awful side affects whether it was mentally or physically. Men's lives were altered as they fought to save the king. Both novels present different interpretations of the psychological impact of war. Heller uses humour to show the downfall of the government during the war, and Regeneration tells the stories of different officers in the British army and how the war has affected them. To conclude I think that both novels show the horrors of the war, as Heller was a soldier in the war he is able to use humour affectively, whereas Barker is writing Regeneration from facts that she has read and researched. Both novels at some point show an anti war attitude. Rachel Seager October 2002 - 1 - ...read more.

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