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A few notions...

Puritanism is a radical version of Protestantism, which is rooted in the movement called the Reformation (16th century). American Puritanism and English Puritanism are fairly different. American Puritanism became the ultimate, most coherent of Protestantism because it grew in a virgin soil. It is an experiment in America with European roots. The most famous characters are Luther and Calvin, who both had a great influence first in Europe and then in America.

The most radical movement was led by the Separatists. For them, the Church was hopelessly corrupted. Only the elect, "God's invisible saints", could be Church members. They believed in personal religious rebirth and to the regenerating experience. This puritan version is prompted by the notion of sin: people are sinful, especially women. It is the basic corrupt notion of human nature. For Puritanism, it is impossible to reach perfection: "in Adam's fault we sinned all".

Puritanism is not only a matter of theology but also a matter of social organization: God also rules the collective life of the people. Man is linked up to God with a covenant. By respecting this covenant, man could get rid of his depravity (covenant of Grace). These notions were puritan before America. Puritans were looking for a place to experiment this system. In 1620, the Pilgrim Fathers landed in America: they were separatists and belonged to a cult (kind of sect). What they did is to sign a covenant: the "MayFlower Compact", which is not only religious but also civic and politic. Between 1630 and 1640, 20 000 English puritans settled down in the Massachusetts colony. Many people were University trained, especially in theology. The power of the Church was so profound that some people talked about "Theocracy" (Government of God).

The puritans moved to America because they were persecuted in Europe. Theocracy was so strict that there were a growing discontent in the colonies: settlers started to criticize and question the system.

Roger Williams was for the separation of the State and the Church. In 1635, Williams was banned. He created his own colony called "Providence", who became the heaven of religious tolerance (later known as Rhode-Island). Anne Hutchinson arrived in America in 1634. She organized private meeting, commented on sermons and stressed the importance of "inner light" (private experience of Grace towards genuine regeneration) stating that the Church was too formal. She had followers called Antinomians (against the laws). In 1638, she was trialed and she had to find refuge in Providence.

How long did Puritanism last in America ?

Until the late 16th century but Puritanism went on and on in American mentality. It had many factors for its decay, the most important were:

  1. the religious competition
  2. people's belief in freedom and tolerance
  3. 1692 knew a witch hysteria in Salem. Thousands of witches were burnt in Europe in the Middle-Ages in Germany and in England (some in France). The immigrants who came in America brought with them this fear of witchcraft. In 1692, some 20 people were sentenced to death for witchcraft.

All these reasons embodied and materialized the decay of Puritanism. It can be interpreted as a desperate effort to resist change (die-hard Puritanism) and to block the emergence of a more open and tolerant society. This is the first failure in the American system.

Link between Puritanism and Expansionism ?

Puritan settlement were located on the East Coast and all the rest of the territory was part of the "terra incognita". This was a dilemma for the puritans: the big question of that time could be resumed by 'should I stay or should I go?", showing the hesitation of the settlers to expand. Indeed, the wilderness was devilish and dangerous. It was a no-man's land inhabited by nothing but Indians and animals. But the puritans had a mission: converting the Indians and trespassing their border. This turn-over was made possible thanks to William Bradford and the propagation of the Gospel. The puritans believed they were entitled to settle this land.

Civilization had a religious definition: "the Lord's Gardens". Bringing civilization to wilderness was like converting the Indians and settling God's Gardens in the Wilderness. The main goal was enlarging the Kingdom of Christ. Hence, expansion had a religious basis and 3 levels:

  1. hesitation
  2. temptation to go beyond the settlement
  3. desire to form a civilization

But most puritans refrained this idea because they were frightened. American civilization is based on FEAR.

Introduction

Space, setting, the interaction between landscape and mindscape and the curious similarities between outdoors places in Scotland and the landscape of the Flanders correspond to the writer's intention of similarity: the characters are so obsessed by the war that they see it in Scotland. This obsession ultimately transforms their vision of time.

I. The present is the past

Indeed, the characters have no present. It applies to all traumatized soldiers:

  • conscious: remembering.
  • unconscious: hallucination

For instance, Sassoon had hallucinations (p.12): "the pavement was covered in corpses". Then he says he had no more: the reader can doubt it:

  • p.5: "he saw lines of men".
  • p.142: "with a crack like rifle fire".

The same happens to Burns: (p.37): "a branch rattled like machine gun fire".
And to Prior:

  • p.214: "the darkness, the nervousness, the repeated and unnecessary swallowing..."
  • p.215: "at this distance, her eyes merged into a single eye".He remembers the eye he held in the trenches.Love scene turned into a horror scene.

II. No future

If the past keeps coming back then there is no future.

  • p.118: Rivers's analysis of Sassoon: "inability to envisage any kind of future".
  • p.198: "it means you're obsessed [...] you never talk about the future anymore".

III. A subjective vision of time

Read passage p.83-84 : conversation between Owens and Sassoon about the war.

A. Personal time

Interesting passage: 2 people in a hospital talking about their past experience. You would expect present tense to refer to the moment of enunciation and past tenses to refer to the war but here, present tenses are used to refer to the past:

  • "sometimes when you're alone".
  • "and that makes it something you almost can't challenge".
  • "what you see every night".

When the present is used, "you" is used too. Both tense and pronoun have the effect of generalizing their experience so that their personal experience of the war is turned into a universal experience. What happened to them becomes exemplary.

B. Historical time

Generalization has the effect of blurring WW1 as an historical event and of presenting it as an a-historical event.

Owen:

  • "you get sense of something ancient".Owen takes the war out of the contemporary period.
  • "men from Marlborough's army".He compares WW1 to very distant events in the past.
  • "wars distilled themselves into that war".Owen shows the similarities of all wars. World War One is the model, the paradigm of all wars.

Sassoon refers to the future. The result is the same: war loses its temporal and historical quality.

  • "I seemed to be seeing it from the future".If he is in the future, then war represents the past.

War loses its historical quality. The common point is that war becomes a sort of symbolic representation of Time. Time is movement but for them, time is eternal death.

Study of a passage p.37-38: "he got off at the next stop [...] whine of shells".

This passage is not a dialogue. The narrator is telling us about Burns. Presence of realistic elements: stress on concrete details ("a tuft of grey wool"). Use of chronological order + realistic framework. Everything is seen through Burns's subjectivity: he is the central focalizer and we move from an objective description of landscape to a subjective mindscape.

I - Presence of subjectivity

A - Focalization

Burns is the focalizer (internal focalization): "looking up and down". Burns does not only look, he feels trough his skin: "raindrops", "burning round the knees".

He also hears the pigeon.

B - Narration

Passage characterized with 3rd person narration. From time to time, the voice of the character emerges:

  • "it was so long since he'd been anywhere alone".
  • "up, up".

Burns is talking. The main effect is to reduce the distance between the reader and the character.

II - The impossible escape

Burns has left the hospital in an impulse. He does not know where he wants to go. His mental state is extremely fragile and even the traffic is too much for him. He favours a solitary place: "a hill". Desire for escape:

  • out of hospital.
  • away from human beings.

The hill: a savage and desolate place. The stress is on the upward movement:

  • "up, up"
  • repetition of "hill"
  • "climbing"
  • "crest"

When there is an insistence on something in the text, it may have a symbolic meaning.

  • upward movement: usually trying to find a better world.
  • quite consistent with his desire to get away from human beings.
  • it is unconscious.

The problem is that he goes up but he is stopped: "way barred by a force". His progression is hindered and he becomes a prisoner of Nature. Intention to move on: "he pressed two strands of wire apart" but failure: "catching his sleeve". Then panic: "breaking into a sweat". Burns tries to protect himself: "steeple of his cupped hands".

There are 2 symbolic meanings:

  • protecting his breath,
  • steeple: symbol of the church.
    => he ought to take shelter.

III - An aggressive nature

3 elements out of 4 are present in the text:

  • Air: wind
  • Earth: mud
  • Water: rain

The 4 elements are necessary to life but here rain aggresses Burns and blinds him. No freedom. Air: high wind and maline intention (evil wind). "Snatching away" : the wind is trying to kill him. The landscape of Scotland becomes the landscape of Flanders. Burns mistakes a place for another (confusion) and a moment for another: there is no present for Burns since what he lives is the war.

That is the way Pat Barker chose to express Burns' trauma.

How human beings presented in Regeneration are different from historical characters ?

Paradoxically, several characters had real historical existence and yet, there is no difference between those who really existed and those invented: it seems that they are on the same level. The major difference lays in characterization, i.e. the ways in which human beings are constructed in characters. In history books, the stress is usually on public life whereas in fictions the stress is on subjectivity.

Regeneration is a faithful evocation of World War One and the view of the war that is given is the juxtaposition of subjective views of characters.

Characterization

A - Places

Where are the characters presented ?

  • hospital + patients' room [Private]
  • one of the character's home [Private]
  • the lovers' place [Intimate]
  • several passages showing Rivers in his bathroom (p.44) [Most private
    life
    ]

B - Temporal aspect

Most of characters have a past:

  • A pair of characters is introduced only to provide a character with a past : Prior's parents. We learn about the parents' education, Prior's asthma, his psychological state.
  • Rivers himself has a past: we learn about his relationship with his father, who was a priest and a speech therapist (he helped out stammering children). [p.153-156].
  • Rivers's childhood: Rivers stammered himself. It makes him more human, with a certain fragility: he becomes closer to the reader.

C - What characters say

Indirect characterization relies heavily on speech. When they talk about war, we learn more about them than about war.
Example: [p.83]. Dialogue between Sassoon and Owen: it deals with war but the
way they talk is extremely subjective.

D - Stress on the characters' feelings

Rivers is a sensitive human being but a military officer too.

  • Sassoon: kind of anguished [p.63] when he discusses his homosexuality
    with Rivers. [p.199]: homosexuals are sent to psychiatric places to be "cured".
  • One character is introduced for the purpose of showing other characters' feeling : Sarah.
  • Not only are we introduced to characters' feelings but also to their unconscious life due to Rivers's job. Indeed 3 dreams are fully developed.
    1. Anderson's dream [p.28]: after the dream comes Rivers's interpretation.
    2. Rivers's dream [p.45-48]: his own dream and his interpretation
    3. Rivers's dream [p.235-239].

The reader is given access to the depth of the characters.

E - Characters' thoughts

Either in indirect style or, quite frequently, in free indirect style (fid). Effect: to reduce the distance between the reader and the characters. The reader is placed within the characters' mind.

p.172: it goes on with Rivers's thought: "Silly ?". We learn that Burns is so ill that he cannot read news of the war.

F - There is a hero

Rivers is both the protagonist and the hero. As the main protagonist, he is the center of the novel, everything revolves around him. There are only 3 chapters when Rivers is not here. The novel closes on him.

Other characters are like satellites around him. In the final chapter, they say goodbye to Rivers but they stay in his mind. Rivers is the hero : he is presented as an outstanding person, a terribly hard-worker. What is remarkable is the way he deals with his patients: his capacity for empathy (the ability to feel what others feel). He is a modern psychiatrist.

Yealland is another secondary character who shows how good Rivers is. Both are psychiatrists. Yealland is the anti-hero, the villain without any humanity. He is introduced because he really existed and because he is necessary to show the contrast between Rivers and himself.

Study of the passage p11-12: from "What kind of questions did they ask.." to "with quite a bit of his leg left inside".

This is the first real dialogue between Rivers and Sassoon. Sassoon is presented as shell-shocked. This passage is composed of a dialogue and 12 lines of narrative. Most of the narrative comments describe Sassoon's behaviour.

I. Dialogue and verisimilitude

Dialogue enhances verisimilitude. Rivers is a psychiatrist and Sassoon is the patient. It is a normal professional situation. The relations are based on dialogue. The psychiatrist has to understand and must invite patients to talk to overcome the previous trauma.
"War neurosis" : technical language.

II. Dialogue and drama

Tension, conflictual situation.On the one hand, Rivers is a military psychiatrist whose duty is to heal the soldiers to send them back to the front in France. On the other hand, Sassoon is a poet who has written a protestation against the war.

The conflict is all the more obvious that there is no narrator in this passage. The two characters seem to address the reader directly.

III. Dialogue and character's development

We learn about the characters when reading the dialogue. The dialogue is also used as stage directions: it has a theatrical function. Stage directions are indications of characters' personality.

l.2: "Sassoon smiled".
  • smile is not expected
  • ironical when he says "Don't you know ?"

He asks another question instead of answering. Non-answers. l.6: Sassoon describes the Board as "rather amusing" : flippant, arrogant, irony.

Flippancy changes with the psychological evolution of Sassoon.

  • l.23 : "looked surprised".
    From that point onwards, Sassoon is not so sure of himself.
    Rivers managed to destabilize him.
  • l.33 : "Mad Jack" ----- "looked taken aback"
    Even more destabilized.
  • l.37 : " "Is it ?" Sassoon looked down at his hands".
    Avoids confrontation, playing hide and seek.
  • l.40 : "he looked up to see if he should continue".
    Sassoon recognizes that Rivers is a form of authority.

IV. Dialogue and banishment of the past

The use of dialogue modifies temporality because historical events are suddenly brought out of the past into the present situation.The novel was written in 1991. The passage deals with 1917. A history book uses 3rd person and past tense. Here, past is made present in the dialogue. Sassoon speaks of his own time (immediate time), talks about his Board and some parts of his experience in France a few months before. The period of time is reduced : the novel is situated in the First World War and 1917 becomes the temporal landmark.

Sassoon starts speaking in past tense but l.44 he reverts to sentences without verbs (nominal sentences). No verb means no passing of time, no past.l.46 : present tenses again. The experience is so drastic that when speaking he is reliving the moment. Past becomes present again. That is exactly what Rivers had hoped for.

Technical remarks

  • indirect speech : disappearance of the past.
  • l.5 : Sassoon reports the question he was asked. For us readers, it is as
    if we witnessed the scene of the Board: it is shown more than told.

Is Regeneration a novel with a plot ?

It is not as obvious as in a detective story.

I. Sassoon's transformation

Must be seen in the changes that occurred between the beginning and the end of the novel. At the beginning, Sassoon has just protested against fighting the war. At the end, something has changed: "no, I want to go back" (p.213). He has stopped his protest and has made the decision to go back to the front.He hesitates between protesting and going back. See p.118, paragraph 2: he is
changing his mind.

II. Rivers' transformation

At the beginning, Rivers has a very clear cut attitude: the soldiers must go back to the front when they are better. It is his "duty" (p.48). "Duty" is a very important word for Rivers. He is a military psychiatrist: a doctor but also an army officer.

p.164: "look [...] I do the job".
Not even a question of choice, he is an officer with responsibilities. Military pression too: there were no reasons of not continuing the war at the beginning.

But his belief will be undermined with his experience with his patients...
When Rivers met Sassoon they became very close, like a father and a son. Sassoon forces Rivers to ask questions with his attitude. Rivers also changes because of the patients' suffering. He is a very sensitive person and it makes him think about the war.

Rivers gradually uses stronger and stronger words to express his horror at the war. Being a psychiatrist, he is very intimate with his patients. He can have empathy (feel for them as if he were in their place).This change is obvious in the chapter where Rivers looks for Burns: p.180 : "nothing justifies this. Nothing nothing nothing.". The italics show emphasis, underlying the key moment: it is the turning point in Rivers's changing attitude to the war.

Toward the end, something also happened to him. Craighlockart is a traumatizing experience. That is why he pays a visit to another hospital so see how Yealland treats his patients. Rivers thinks about the meaning of his dream and becomes pessimistic: he is the same kind of person as Yealland (see p.238, paragraph 2). The methods are different but the results is the same: the soldiers are sent back to the front.

An hostile nature

Use of an adjective of color (yellow)

The sun and the light are described as yellow, which is a warm color not normally applied to natural light.

  • p.175, l.2: "fading to yellow".Yellow not presented as a bright color, paradox.
  • p.128: "yellowing of the light", "sulfurous".Attribute of Lucifer, negative connotation.
  • p.199: "like an artificial sunset".The natural light of the sun has gone.Yellow is linked to the war.

Yellow is associated with light, with Sarah's skin (because of the ammo factory). It has a negative connotation. This is a subversion of nature. The sun is expected to give light. Here it is the ammo factory that gives light.
Light: symbol of life.
War: related to death.
=> subversion of the normal use of life and light.

Darkness

Many scenes with a dark setting.

p.235: Rivers going at night: "gleam" is compared with "metal", which evokes the weapons. War is everywhere. Importance of shadows :

  • p.18: "shadows of the beech trees had begun to creep across".Creep: snake, evil: negative connotation.
  • p.86: "Prior [...] sitting on the shadow corner [...] in some sleazy district [...] he didn't know where he was". Disorientation.
  • p.199: inside the ammo factory: "room disappeared into shadow".
    Death & hell.

Insistence on cold.. Cold used as a metaphor: the sound of an owl is described as cold (p.153).

An aggressive environment

  • Scotland: stormy weather in the book.
  • Terrible wind blowing:
    • p.37: "tensing himself against the wind"
    • Prior and Sarah at the sea-side (p.128)
    • When Owen and Sassoon discuss poetry (p.142)
    • When Rivers visits Burns at his place (chapt.15)
    • p185: "another stormy day".

Such an accumulation of storm is not natural. Symbolic meaning:

  • nature becomes really threatening,
  • nature powerful vs. human beings powerless.

p.176: "faced with this sea, the land seemed fragile". There is no protection. Nature is so threatening that characters feel they are the prisoners
of the setting and space.

p.128: "they seemed to be trapped, fixed in some element thicker than air" : prisoners.
p.129: "he would have fallen if he hadn't grabbed a chump of marram grass" : another aggression of nature, deliberate choice from Pat Barker.

Nature as a metaphor of death

A few metaphors insist on the fact that Nature - the outside world is sick.

  • p.127: "a ganglion of rails"Outside world + sickness/illness
  • p.169: "the mist clung to them [pebbles] like sweat".Like a fever.
  • p.168: the color of the wallpaper: "yellow of an old bruise".
  • p.171: "irregular heartbeat".

Sickness, cold and absence of light prefigure death.

  • p.159. Sarah is at the hospital: "the tall chimney of an incinerator dribbled brownish-yellow smoke". Yellow death. Everything is subverted by war.

Certain animals are mentioned.

  • moth: night animal, one of the symbol of death.(p.98).
  • scythes: related to death. (p.98).
  • p.156: Rivers writes to Sassoon at his brother's place.
    • "the moth's huge shadow"
    • "darkened the page"
    • & Rivers has to convince Sassoon to go back fighting => presence of the Death.
  • owl: symbol of melancholy and death. (p.153)
  • dead fish (p.176). They find dead fish on the beach. Pat Barker could have avoided this but it creates a link between Nature and Death. It is also a way to see Burns's reactions: "Burns had stopped dead".

Conclusion

Many elements were added purposefully to create a whole universe of death and hostility. The point is not that Scotland is like that: it is not realism. It has to do with realism. Pat Barker makes the reader perceive things as the characters perceive them: the reader should feel like the characters. The scene is seen through their eyes, with death in their head: they see death everywhere.

Narratives

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Macbeth by Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare

Richard III by Shakespeare

World War One Poetry

Regeneration by Pat Barker

Introduction to Regeneration by Pat Barker photo

Regeneration has to do with World War One (WW1) and it is visible right from its cover. The novelist, Pat Barker is one of the first women writers who have written about the Great War. Pat Barker is a university-trained historian and this is confirmed by the presence of very reliable sources in the "Author's Notes", at the end of the novel. Regeneration is a historical novel on the surface but is really more than that.

I. Historical accuracy

Several elements allow us to consider Regeneration as historically exact.

A. Real elements

1 - Real people

In the novel, there is a whole list of characters who have really existed.

  • Several characters like Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfried Owen and Robert Graves were both poets and soldiers during the war.
  • The two psychiatrists also existed: Rivers had very modern Freudian views and Yealland did apply his own methods as it is described in the novel.
  • Pacifists like Lady Morrel and Bertrand Russel are real people. Important to note that pacifism was strictly forbidden at the time.

Thus, this novel is a mixture of real people and characters: Burns, for instance, is a total invention.

2 - Real facts and events

There are numerous references to battles (e.g.: the battle of the Somme) and places (e.g.: Flanders, Belgium). Yet, the major place is Craiglockheart, where the action takes place. Regeneration is also historical because of its treatment of realism.

B. Realism

Some characters are real but some are pure invention from the part of Pat Barker. The general type of writing is realistic. Here are some elements that highlight this.

1 - Landscape

It is the landscape of war throughout the testimony of the patients and more especially trench warfare. Regeneration insists on the presence of corpses, mud and rats...

2 - Soldiering

That is the life the soldiers had in the trenches. Realistic writing likes to insist on things that are disagreeable and wants to show reality as it is (not hide anything). Pat Barker gives the reader lots of details about life in the trenches:

  • "It was flooded. You stand the whole time. Most of the time in pitch darkness because the blast kept blowing the candles out. We were packed in so tight we couldn't move. And they just went all out to get us. One shell after the other. I lost two sentries. Direct hit on the steps. Couldn't find a thing."
    "And you had forty-eight hours of that ?"
    "Fifty. The relieving officer wasn't in a hurry." (p52)
  • "Your watch is brought back by a runner, having been synchronized at headquarters." A long pause. "You wait, you try to calm down anybody who's obviously shitting himself or on the verge of throwing up. You hope you won't do either of those things yourself. Then you start the count down: ten, nine, eight... so on. You blow the whistle. You climb the ladder. Then you double through a gap in the wire, lie flat, wait for somebody else to get out - and then you stand up. And you start walking. Not at the double. Normal walking speed." Prior started to smile. "In a straight line. Across open country. In broad daylight. Towards a line of machine-guns." (p78)

There is no commentary at all. All we have is action. There is no attempt at hiding reality: Prior says it as it is. It is clearly opposed to propaganda, where soldiers are always presented as great heroes.

3 - Horror

Throughout Regeneration, there is an insistence on physical suffering as well as on mental suffering, which is the major aspect of the novel. The symptoms are all exact, they have been studied by doctors (historically genuine). Several soldiers have twitching of the head (spasmodic movement), stammering, anorexia. Some became mute (e.g.: Prior) or have mental paralysis, hallucinations (CF p12), terrible nightmares (cannot sleep anymore) or phobias (Anderson cannot see blood any longer).

CF p102 from "He'd gone....eye".
This is a key passage. The notion of eye may be a reference to the second volume of Regeneration, which is entitled The Eye in the Door. Let us study the realistic elements in this excerpt to see how realism functions:

  • the characters' names: Logan is a Christian family name, calling people with family name tends to create a familiarity with the reader.
  • setting: the trench. Very material details and a description of life in the trenches.
  • the person telling the story was there: Prior is an eyewitness.
  • factual style: very dry sort of style. Short sentence. No linkwords. No comments. The narrator wants the facts to speak for themselves.
  • insistence on all that is horrible: vomiting, putting human flesh in a bag, finding an eye.
  • temporal development of the passage. The reader is not prepared for the last sentence. No building-up. It is when the reader thinks the action is over that Prior finds the eye. Pat Barker is trying to put the reader in a situation where he expects to find vomit but no such thing as an eye.
  • traumatic reading experience, aiming at being as brutal as possible.

On the whole, due to the many references to real events and people, it might be tempturous to consider Regeneration as a historical document. In fact, history is subdued to fiction.

II. History is subdued to fiction

A. Representation of the war

1 - Dramatization

Is not something to be found in historical documents. See passage p160: Sarah is here with her friend. The setting is realist: it is an overcrowded hospital. Insistence on all that is horrible (opposed to romanticism). Pat Barker wants to tell the truth at all cost but the text cannot be reduced to realism : a historical document aims at objectivity and this passage is purely subjective.

a) focalization

Through whose eyes is the scene seen ? Focalization is a question of viewpoint. In this excerpt, the scene is seen through Sarah's eyes. It has several effects and consequences on the reader: he identifies with Sarah thanks to the many verbs of perception, shift from objective verbs (see) to more subjective verbs (seem, look). Through the verbs of perception, the reader learns about the soldiers and about Sarah's emotions. Focalization creates subjectivity.

b) narration

The narrator is the one who tells the story. He is a third-person narrator, i.e. an independent voice (different from a character's), just like in history books. Yet , there is a shift from 3rd person narrator to Sarah's voice.

  • "she backed out": indirect speech, narrator
  • "but no, she thought": form of emotion and later free indirect speech, Sarah's voice.

We are finally placed in Sarah's mind. Subjective element.

c) dramatization

Not a cold, neutral description. If we can feel emotions or reactions, we must find all the triggering elements.

  • Suspense
    • "before she saw them": at that point we do not know what "them" represents: it creates a form of suspense
    • "a row of figures in wheelchairs": stress on the form, not on humanity.
  • Different places : Sarah is entering the room: the "threshold" is the symbolical line separating two worlds.
    • Outside: the stress is on the sun, the light ("dazzled"). World of light and health.
    • Inside: absence of light ("dim"). World of half-life, half-death. This symbolical opposition is part of the dramatization effect.
  • Tension between the wounded soldiers and the young woman : conflict between the pretty girl (seduction) and the wounded (not handsome any longer because of their mutilations).

Internal conflict too: "thinking that perhaps if..." and then "but no..."
Thus, this passage is certainly not an objective evocation of mutilated soldiers
during WW1. It is as much about Sarah as it is about the war: her awakening
to the horror of the war and to a political consciousness.

2 - How can we differentiate Regeneration from a history book ?

a) Time

There are very few dates in the novel. Chronology is disrupted by a lot of flashbacks. The novel is based on a series of scenes and dialogues.

b) Subjectivity

The novel based on revolt and anger. Sassoon has really existed and protested against the war, though he was not a pacifist.
Ironical tone (cf Prior p78). The use of italics has the effect of foregrounding Prior's voice (personal experience). Book: mixture of irony and anger. Irony is absent from history books.

c) Textuality

Presence of stylistic devices: literariness has been precisely worked upon to create some effect. See p.16 - 79 - 83

  • p.16: passage from "At one point..." to "tree".
    "like the roots of an overturned tree" : simile.
  • p.79: passage "I looked back... down."
    • "writhing": movement of a snake
    • "like fish in a pond"
    • "fluttering down" : evokes birds, butterflies
  • p.83: passage "You know....." : "like mushrooms".

All these examples are comparisons (similes and metaphors) between:

  • the wounded and the animals
  • dead bodies and plants.

It creates an effect of dehumanization.

Skulls and mushrooms => notion of proliferation. Plants: something growing, embodiement of life. Here, it means death. Very brutal effect on the reader because it is not expected.

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