Pat Barker's Regeneration represents a part of history for the First World War. Regeneration is an antiwar novel held together by people, places, and cultural references. Charlie Chaplin is a cultural reference used within the novel. Barker refers to Chaplin on page 60 in the novel. When the wounded and dysfunctional soldiers watch a Charlie Chaplin film at the Craiglockhart War Hospital. During the war Charlie Chaplin films were therapeutic for the soldiers, and showing one of his films helps develop the theme of therapy that occurs throughout the novel. Even though Chaplin was unable to participate in the war, he helped boost the morale of the soldiers that were in it. Barker utilizes Chaplin as a cultural reference to show that good morale is needed to help the progress of the patient's therapy, but true recovery takes more than just a film.
Charlie Chaplin faced public backlash with his stance on World War I. In The Importance of Charlie Chaplin, Arthur Diamond says, "a British citizen had chosen not to leave the United States to fight for his native country" (58). Chaplin's actions caused British audiences to have mixed feelings about him. They loved his films, but disapproved of his non-participation in the war. However, British representatives said that Chaplin was more valuable as an entertainer than an infantryman (Diamond 58). So while the public disagreed with his non-participation, the British government backed him up.
In early 1917, the United States knew that Chaplin was a British citizen living in the U.S. and that Chaplin was part of the support system for their side. However, their attitude changed when the United States entered the war after the Germans sank th...
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...haplin's irreverent humor plays a big role in developing the theme in Regeneration. Without his comedy, many of the patients at Craiglockhart War Hospital would not have been able to look past and overcome the real aspects of the war. Chaplin found a way to make his audience laugh when they were filled with horror, and he opened the minds of the soldiers, which had once been closed like a shell.
Barker, Pat. Regeneration. New York: Plume, 2003.
"Charlie Chaplin Goes to War: Shoulder Arms." Center for History and New Media. 23 April 2003. <http://chnm.gmu.edu/features/episodes/chaplin.html>
Diamond, Arthur. The Importance of Charlie Chaplin. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1995
Napolo, Tony, ed. Our Century: 1910-1920. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens Pub., 1993
Robb, George. British Culture and the First World War. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002
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