Barker's Regeneration and Sassoon's Representations of War as Futile and Horrific

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In the novel, ‘Regeneration’ by Pat Barker, the themes of horror and futility are significantly explored. As a result of the horrific events in the war, many soldiers developed psychological problems such as shell shock. In effect, many soldiers such as Siegfried Sassoon reacted against the war and the fact that it was futile, as the motives turned from ‘a war of defence and liberation to a war of aggression and conquest’. In his war poetry, Siegfried Sassoon shows the horrors of war through vivid imagery, and the futility of war, as non combatants such as civilians and generals do not understand what the soldiers experience at the front. In many ways, Barker’s ‘Regeneration’ contrasts with Sassoon’s poetry, due to the fact that the novel is written in the 20th Century, where the characters recount their horrors of war in the safety of Craiglockhart Hospital. In contrast, Sassoon’s poetry is written from firsthand experience in the trenches, where he conveys his experience of the horrors of war and how suffering as a result of their injuries. This shows how Sassoon’s poetry is rawer, in the fact that the soldiers’ experiences are from the front, whereas Barker’s novel looks back at the experiences of soldiers away from the front. Both Barker and Sassoon use vivid imagery to show the soldiers’ physical suffering due to the horrors of war. In Barker’s ‘Regeneration’, characters such as Burns are traumatised by their experiences of war, as he is traumatised by being launched head first onto a German corpse, “... he’d had time to realise that what filled his nose and mouth was decomposing human flesh. Now whenever he tried to eat, the taste and smell recurred”. The use of words such as ‘decomposing’ and ‘flesh’ show the reader how World War 1 is horrific, as the soldiers are physically scarred by witnessing suffering and death. Similarly, the narrator in ‘To the

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