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Is Regeneration an Anti-war Novel?

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January 15, 2008 Is Regeneration an 'anti-war' novel? "Opposition gives definition" said Heraclitus in 6th century BC (Graham). If that was true, in 21st century people are given "definition" by the usage of the prefix "anti-". Therefore, an "anti-war" novel is one, which opposes any form of aggressive competition. Regeneration by Pat Barker is one of the plentiful novels inspired by the atrocious events of the First World War. Barker's book does not focus on depicting combats and stratagems. On the contrary, it portrays in detail the mental and physical consequences of the war. Regeneration is an "anti-war" novel, which touches upon the appalling harm done by warfare and the following recovery process. Barker condemns war and her negative attitude is displayed by her complex, credible characters and hard emphasis on consequences. Description of both mental and physical war injuries tags every chapter of the novel, thus provoking the reader's sympathy. Barker aims to create a picture of the real circumstances during that period. Both by imaginary and real characters she succeeds in creating the solemn and discouraging mood in Craiglockheart. ...read more.


The social conditions are curved by war. Society puts restrictions on the individual. Any form of protest is forbidden and all those who dare object are condemned - "'conchies', cowards, shirkers, scrimshankers and degenerates" (Barker 4). The novel begins with Sassoon's bold Declaration. As the plot unfolds, it becomes evident that his ideas are entirely justified but rejected. The government pronounces him mentally ill and silences him in a mental hospital. By censuring Sassoon's protest, the country prevents another upcoming remonstrance. Also, expression of sexuality is confined in the society. At that time homosexuals would not be accepted in the army. When Sassoon implies his homosexuality during one of his s´┐Żances with Rivers, the doctor warns him. Even though Rivers really feels sympathy for Sassoon's unfortunate situation in the prejudiced society, he tells him that he must face the reality he lives in. The doctor explains that society could become more accepting in the future, but it is not likely "that any movement towards greater tolerance would persist in wartime" (Barker 204). ...read more.


(Barker 232). After that episode Rivers considers the differences between himself and Yealland and for his horror realizes that they are the same. In Chapter 14 his thoughts are released: "Obviously he and Yealland were both in the business of controlling people. Each of them fitted young men back into role of warrior ..." (Barker 238). At that point Rivers understands that instead of curing his patients he actually breaks them down. Even though his methods are less severe than Yealland's, the effect is the same. To a certain extent Rivers is violating his patients' rights because of war. All of these examples portray how Barker gradually, but effectively builds the "anti-war" suggestion in Regeneration. Barker's novel Regeneration is an "anti-war" book because it provides a unique possibility to the contemporary reader to dive into the depths of a war that had irrevocable effects on soldiers' mentality. The author's personal attitude is expressed by her characters' behavior and destiny in the society. She aims to remind people of what effects the war had on previous generations and warn them, so that the same mistake does not occur. Will it? Word Count: 1111 ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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