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How are class distinctions represented in the novel Regeneration?

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Introduction

´╗┐Douglas Metcalfe ? Regeneration How are class distinctions represented in the novel regeneration? Pat Barker's novel Regeneration explores the effects of World War 1 in both the physical and the emotional aspects. One area that Barker particularly focuses on is class distinctions in the British military. This issue of class distinction is addressed specifically on pages 66 and 67 of the novel through a conversation between Billy Prior and Dr. Rivers. The characters' discussion emphasizes the inequality and injustice of these class distinctions and the harm they produce on the war as a whole and on the men. Class distinctions and the Class structure was very clear within the military. The Army "structured itself around class" and "in many ways . ...read more.

Middle

The either permanent or temporary commissioning of these individuals gave them the title of "temporary gentlemen". This label of "temporary gentleman" applies to Prior in Barker's story, given his rank of Second Lieutenant. His lower class birth and working class background places Prior in a difficult situation. During a therapy session with Rivers, Prior is asked how he "fit in" with those on the war front. In response to this question his "face shuts tight," and Prior asks, in order to clarify, "You mean, did I encounter any snobbery?" Prior answers his own question in and informs Rivers that "it's made perfectly clear" who is immediately accepted at the front and who is not. Prior states that your rank depends on whether you went to "the right school" or whether you wore shirts of "the right colour, which is a deep shade of khaki." ...read more.

Conclusion

The pettiness of concern over the shade of khaki someone is wearing illustrates the absurdity of such distinctions. And the value placed on officers of higher class in contrast to the disregard given for soldiers of lower social standing shows the "snobbery" within the British social structure that leads to the unfair view of soldiers as expendable. The conversation between Prior and Rivers is a small piece of Barker's larger discussion on Britain's social class distinctions. Their conversation illustrates the negative results that stem from Britain's social structure, which is reproduced within the trenches of war. Class distinctions are explored further through characters like Prior's parents, and other patients at Craiglockhart. Barker's inclusion of these characters' experiences and their social standings within British society reinforce her theme of the injustice of class distinctions and their damaging effects on the mindset of men during World War I. ...read more.

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