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Examine the Presentation of WW1 In “Regeneration” and Comment On the Effectiveness of the Blend of Fact and Fiction and the Attitudes Revealed Through the Writers Approach.

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Introduction

Examine the presentation of WWI in "Regeneration" and comment on the effectiveness of the blend of fact and fiction and the attitudes revealed through the writers approach. The novel produces an eloquent statement against the madness of war. The story is closely based on the publications and annotated literary papers of three men who actually met at Craiglockhart Hospital, Edinburgh, in 1917: psychiatrist W. H. R. Rivers and the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Barker probes the tenacious role of class within the military hierarchy, while the society, which it defends, is rapidly transformed by the converging lives of domestic servants and aristocrats. Her descriptions are powerful: the yellow skin of women who work in the munitions factory; the surgeon who can no longer bear the sight of blood; the young soldier who cannot eat because his nose and mouth had once been filled with rotting flesh when he was hoisted by a grenade into the decomposing belly of a dead German. ...read more.

Middle

The then current concept was "shell shock" and it was a controversial diagnosis. Also a matter of debate and of discrepancy in practice was the approach to treatment. The language of Craiglockhart and other medical institutions mentioned would have been a special challenge to the novelist, one that I find she has managed extremely well. There is sufficient probing and personal revelation to illustrate psychological work, but little interpretation or counselling, no psychological jargon, which would divert the focus from the painful encounters on the part of both patient and therapist. We get some insight into "compassion fatigue" as well, as Rivers struggles with the realisation that he desperately needs a break from his involvement with his patients. The principal focus is on the dialogue between Rivers and Sassoon and on Sassoon's desperate attempt to direct the nation to negotiate rather than continue the trench warfare, or as he put it: " ... ...read more.

Conclusion

One might expect expression of moral revulsion at any violence towards persons, but Pat Barker is true to the historical characters and presents a developing realisation of Sassoon's position that the national leaders had betrayed the soldiers by abandoning the initial purpose of the war, "defence and liberation", in favour of "aggression and conquest". By living through events in the psychiatric hospital over several weeks, we as readers get to live with several shell-shocked soldiers as they struggle to regain a stable level of functioning. Their caring treatment by Rivers is contrasted at one point with the treatment devised by Yealland. That dramatic account showed the extremity at how different each doctor was in his methods of "curing" the patients. I feel Pat Barker was extremely successful in her presentation of the characters. She effectively and persuasively combined fact and fiction to create a powerful and evocative novel. ?? ?? ?? ?? Amy Gallacher ...read more.

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