How does Barker explore the impact of war in this extract from "Regeneration"-extract p.10 Light from..neurasthenic

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English Lit Passage-based Essay:” How does Barker explore the impact of war in this extract”-extract p.10 “Light from…..neurasthenic”

This extract plays an important role in ‘Regeneration’, as it is the first encounter that Dr. Rivers had with Sassoon. Prior to this excerpt, the reader had learnt that despite Sassoon not being “shell-shocked”, he had thrown his medal away, thus leaving the reader to question the extent of his sanity. Moreover, as this extract consists of many physical symptoms that Dr Rivers expected to see in a neurasthenic patient, it is therefore a key excerpt since it gives readers possible insights into why Sassoon has nightmares and hallucinations, mentioned later in the chapter. In this case, the extract has explored the impacts of war by displaying the common physical state of the soldiers, the class system during wartime, soldiers’ unstable mentality, and the dominance of the superego in soldiers.

Initially, Pat Barker had explored the impact of war in this extract by portraying the physical state of the soldiers. For example, as conveyed through “pale skin, purple shadows”, pale skin” can explicitly refer to the weak physical condition of the soldiers, similar to anemia, which connotes of malnutrition and exhaustion from the squalid conditions in the trenches. Moreover, as “pale” is often associated with a corpse, not only does this refer to an ‘almost-dying physical condition”, but also to the soldier’s mentality on the brink of collapsing from the psychological traumas faced at the warfront. Similarly, from “shadows under his eyes”, this denotes of insomnia, which can suggest that Sassoon is shell-shocked, as this is one of the “conversion disorders” for neurasthenic patients, where soldiers are unable to sleep because of fear. Despite that, as sleep-deprived people is often not conscious of their actions, Barker might imply that River perceives Sassoon to do irrational acts because he was ill rather than because of neurasthenia. More specifically, since “shadows” naturally always occur, thus can’t be controlled or removed; shadows in this context can be a metaphor for the images of war, wherein it’ll always be engraved in the soldier’s mindset, haunting their thoughts for the rest of their lives.

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Alongside this, Pat Barker had also explored the impact of war by conveying the class system it created in society. An example of this is “purple shadows”, where “purple” with its royal, noble associations, connotes war as bringing pride to the soldiers, transcending their status to the upper classes in society. Furthermore, from “slightly averted…for arrogance” and “hands doing complicated things”, since Sassoon was an officer, readers can interpret this as war segregating men by their roles in the army, whereby regular soldiers weren’t deemed capable of doing “complicated things”, hence resulting in insecurity at their low status and contempt from ...

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