Pat Barker's Regeneration

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Pat Barker's Regeneration As Pat Barker’s ‘Regeneration’ is set in a mental hospital during World War I many aspects of the novel evaluate and discuss the psychological effects that the War has had on the patients. The novel explores the internal struggles of WWI soldiers and their attempts to overcome the trauma of war experiences. In ‘Strange Meeting’ a different approach to the war is addressed with much of the novel being set in the trenches and at the front line. The novel closely examines the relationship between two soldiers Barton and Hilliard and the extent of change caused by the war is a prominent theme throughout, showing clearly the emotional and physical changes the war has caused. Prior is an initially difficult patient who suffers from mutism, writing that he has ‘NO MORE WORDS’ when asked what he could remember from his time served in France. Barker’s use of block capital letters and short, blunt statements here leads us to at first believe that Prior is not only an uncooperative patient hindering a possible speedy recovery but also inwardly angry and agitated. Although Prior gives the staff at Craiglockhart a hard time, describing the night staff as ‘spies’, and with this sarcastic dismissive attitude is perhaps at first perceived as though he doesn’t want to get better we soon realise that he is simply a difficult character who actually really wants to recover and as fast as possible, ‘it isn’t fair to say I don’t want treatment’. He is one of the many soldiers from WWI who is torn between two desires. On the one hand, he wants to recover, enabling him to return to France as soon as possible, proving himself as a soldier as well as a man. However, he still has a selfish side th... ... middle of paper ... ...Prior share a lot in common both having experiencing trench life and struggling with the brutal truths of war. They both create relationships with people throughout the novels and through Barton and Hilliard’s relationship and the relationships Prior shares with Sarah and Rivers we learn a lot about their characters and the difficulties soldiers experienced in talking about their experiences as there were so many people that ‘didn’t understand’. We see that although the physical scars can be healed quickly it is the emotional scars that do the most injury and ironically are the hardest to heal. Barker and Hill both portray this message about the war using a fragmented discontinuous style, which reflects the disjointed thought process of many of the soldiers. From both novels we are shown just how innocent those back at home are and how they really don’t.
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