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Regeneration Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Daunltess1
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Explore the ways in which Barker’s use of language, form and structure have affected your response to the presentation of the horrors of war.

In the novel ‘Regeneration’, Pat Barker uses language, form and structure to present the horrors of war using the characters in the novel; who represent the soldiers in the front line, during World War One. The novel is two hundred and fifty pages, distributed between twenty three chapters and split into four parts which could be used to show four months at Craiglockhart hospital, where the novel is based. The novel is based in World War One and the horrors of war presented in the book represent what life was like for the soldiers on the frontline. The unmentionable trauma they witnessed: watching comrades die, the pile of dead bodies consuming the space around them, the stench coming from the trench (such as rats, rotting flesh and gas from on enemies attacks).
In chapter two, Barker presents a horror of war through the character Burns. Before the reader is even shown the trauma that Burns went through, his mouth being filled with decaying human flesh, Barker suggests how terrible his experience was. “Rivers had become adept at finding bearable aspects to unbearable experiences, but Burns defeated him.” This suggests to the reader that Burns personal experience must be so vile that even a doctor was unable to fully tolerate it. The fact Rivers has been able to endure horrid experiences of patients at the hospital and manage to deal with them amplifies the horror Burns went through. This has changed my response to the horrors of war because of the use of the word “defeated” because it shows that even the most experienced doctor at Craiglockhart could barely face the after math of the demon Burns faced on the front line. The word “defeated” also suggests that the horror that Burns had to face beat him and he was left “defeated”. This shows to the reader what it might have been like for the real soldiers on the front line faced with demons were “defeated” themselves and this reinforces the horror that some soldiers may not have recovered from their experience in war. Burns himself is a metaphor for the soldiers left broken and this is shown in chapter fifteen when Rivers visits Burns after he had left Craiglockhart. Rivers could not judge whether Burns had got over his ordeal and recovered but described his face as “expressionless as beaten bronze.” This shows the reader that even after a long period of time the soldiers are still affected by the barriers that war has set for them (their horrors). The use of the simile in this quotation stands out to the reader since it reinforces the fact that Burns is portrayed as useless and even worse, damaged. This horror has affected my response to the horrors of war since it shows how the soldiers might have considered themselves as useless and unimportant, emasculating them and leaving them without purpose. This shows Barkers skill as a writer because comparing Burns to “beaten bronze” because it shows that the men where unimportant and replaceable. If they die in the war someone can always replace them just like “beaten bronze”. This is a horror of war since it shows that the people prolonging the war did not truly care for the Tommys on the frontline. The word “beaten" implies that Burns is in fact beaten by war and the effects it has had on him. The choice of word “beaten” is effective for describing Burns since he is described as a “cheerful and likeable young man” in chapter two which reinforces the horror of young boys being broken and “beaten” by war, showing a contrast from the start of the war and during, “cheerful”, “young” men being inevitably beaten by their experience at war.
In chapter twenty one a new horror of war is shown. Barker introduces the reader to the pain staking trips to the hospital soldiers would have had to go to; unlike Craiglockhart the hospital is more shocking in the way the patients are being treated for their shellshock. “You must talk before you leave me.” This presents a new kind of horror of war to the reader since the mind altering experience is not being inflicted on the soldiers by the enemy, it is being caused by the very people trying to treat their trauma. The word “must” suggests to the reader that Yealland was not taking his time and asking about the patients worries; he’s more demanding saying you “must” get better my way.
Yealland is characterised by Barker as the opposite to Rivers; Rivers being a nice, caring doctor who has time for the patients and contrasting him in Yealland since Yealland is in fact the polar opposite to him; Yealland being cruel, uncaring and sadistic towards the patients under his “care”. Barker probably put this contrast in to engage the reader and show them what it was like for the soldiers sent to war hospitals due to their mental state, introducing Yealland, perhaps, could have been done to reinforce the fact when it came to war the soldiers were not recovering from their trials in war, even in the hospitals it was an ordeal of torture; Barker may also have characterised Yealland this way to show that it wasn’t just the enemy torturing the soldiers, it was those who were looking after them “shock after shock”.
In conclusion, Barker uses key words, language devices and character characterisation in order to affect my personal response and the response of the reader to the presentation of the horror of war. Barker has done this by reinforcing the harsh mental strains the soldiers had to go through and how even as time goes by, the mind is not fully recovered from the shellshock experienced in the war. Also it has affected my response because of the treatment of soldiers at war hospitals; the contrast of Rivers and Yealland validate the horror of so called “treatment” the damaged soldiers had to undergo to get fixed, if they ever are fixed.

Word Count (Not including essay Title): 1000 Words
Word Count (Including Title): 1024 Words
Bibliography: Regeneration Novel…...

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