How Does Barker Present the Effects of War in Regeneration

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How does Barker present the effects of war in ‘Regeneration.’ Regeneration by Pat Barker is a novel about a mental hospital for soldiers psychologically injured on the front line. It is unlike other novels and plays such as journey’s End by R.C. Sherriff which tells the story of front-line battle. The ways in which the war has had an effect on the soldiers is explored in great detail by Barker, perhaps to show that the effect the war has had on the characters, somehow has become part of their personality. Another theme Barker looks at is ‘Silence,’ which could link to her grandfather who refused to talk to her about his experiences in the war. And finally, the theme of emasculation is a strong theme throughout the novel, it is particularly interesting as the novel is written by a female author and from a woman’s perspective, but is mainly based around the experiences of men and their lives and any woman that do feature in the novel are usually inconsequential characters that do not understand Rivers or other characters. Silence is a symptom of ‘Shellshock.’ The term shell shock is a disorder found on the battlefield in soldiers who had been exposed to an exploding shell. The symptoms of shell shock were numerous and varied from soldier to soldier. Physical effects ranged from trembling, sweating, insomnia, diarrhoea, and minor twitches to paralysis, blindness, and muteness. In Barker's first reference to shell shock, Siegfried Sassoon is classified as a victim, although the diagnosis is a convenient excuse to silence him. Dr. William Rivers and Dr. Bryce are seen discussing Sassoon’s case, specifically in regard to his recent declaration however, Rivers realizes that Siegfried is no ordinary shell shock case, and states ‘This man is not mad. He has just been suppressed, in the form of a medical disorder, for freely expressing his innermost opinions of the military

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