Monday, April 24, 2006

Y13: Edward Rance- your essay, marked. Shaping up nicely, just get the quotes in!

Edward Rance
The novel regeneration by Pat Barker is set in a World War 1 hospital in Craiglockhart, Scotland. Some of the patients featured in the novel are fictional characters and some are fictionalised historical characters, such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Barker is a female novelist of the 20th century who is best known for her novels about northern working class women, such as Union Street, so it is perhaps surprising for her to choose to explore the consequences of war on a group of men, who are mostly upper class as well. This makes it difficult for Barker to put a fresh approach on the Great War, however she does this using sophisticated literary techniques. NOT SURE OF YOUR MEANING- I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT BEING A LATE TWENTIETH CENTURY WOMAN AUTHOR RATHER THAN AN EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY MALE WRITER- LIKE SASSOON OR OWEN OR GRAVES- WOULD GIVE HER FRESH PERSEPECTIVE ON THE WAR, NOT A ‘STALE’ ! Siegried Sassoon, on the other hand, was an aristocrat who wrote war poetry. TRUE ENOUGH, BUT SASSOON’S EXPERIENCES AS A TRENCH OFFICER ARE FAR MORE RELEVANT TO HIS WRITING THAN HIS SOCIAL CLASS. Sassoon’s purposes for writing much of his poetry was to show the psychological consequences of war and to gain sympathy from the public for his fellow soldiers. I’D QUOTE THE RELEVANT PASSAGE OF THE DECLARATON HERE IF I WERE YOU. Barker’s purpose for writing Regeneration was to show a historical perspective of the Great War and how it affected society.
Regeneration is largely about the psychological and sociological aftermath of the Great War, with the only details of the bloody battles coming from the memories, dreams and flashbacks of the characters in the hospital. This allows the novel to be more about the consequences of battle, rather than a detailed description of trench combat itself. Because of this purpose in the novel, Barker uses a multiplicity of voices in free indirect style as her central narrative technique. This is to allow her to highlight not only the psychological aspects of the war but also the sociological aspects at the same time.

To get the social issues across, Barker must feature a number of characters where we can experience issues surrounding the war through their points of view. Free indirect style will often be used to present the thoughts of a character unannounced and their personality will sometimes invade the narrative space. YOU NEED TO GIVE SOME EXAMPLES OF THIS OTHERWISE YOU ARE ASSERTING WITH EVIDENCE, A SURE SIGN THAT YOU ARE REGURGITATING CLASS NOTES WITHOUT REALLY UNDERSTANDING THEM. Free indirect style is affected by the style of the characters and we can experience the action in their own language, for example Rivers’ medical speak and stammer. USE A QUOTATION, DAMMIT!

As well as wanting to express the views of a range of characters, at the same time Barker also wants intimacy with her characters to show the physiological YOU MEAN ‘PSYCHOLOGICAL’ aspects of the war. EXPAND THIS A BIT- SHOW HOW F.I.S ALLOWS FOR GREATER PSYCHOLOGICAL TRANSPARANCY.
Regeneration has a historical perspective on the war, as it was written in 1992. This contrasts to the poetry of Sassoon, which was written contemporaneously with the war. Sassoon’s poetry is not only written to show personal experiences through the war but also as a “political protest.” As well as this, unintentionally, writing poetry helped Sassoon. It was described by Captain WHR Rivers CAREFUL- RIVERS HIMSELF, THE HISTORICAL CHARACTER MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE THOUGH THIS. BARKER’S VERSION OF RIVERS CERTAINLY DID- THAT ISN’T THE SAME THING as being “therapeutic” for him as it helped him get through the trauma of the war. The poems of Sassoon are obviously a great deal briefer than the novel and this allows for a more emotionally powerful text, with more direct, less exploratory narrative voice. The novel, in contrast has more scope, and multiple characters have to be developed and this novel in particular is nuanced, as it expresses many viewpoints in many voices. GOOD PASAGE
Perhaps we can look at the idea of the multiplicity of voices in Regeneration on three different levels: the varieties of narrative voices themselves, of characters as an index to their social position and the voice of the characters as revealing of them psychologically.
There are multiple narrative voices within the novel as it is important for Barker to let her characters speak for themselves, rather than to mediate them to the reader through a more personal or less neutral third person narrative. These are the narrative voice, the voices of characters socially and the voice of the characters psychologically. NOT SURE WHAT THIS SENTENCE IS DOING HERE- DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE TO ME. There are multiple narrative voices within the novel as it is important for Barker not to include her own voice because of the male characters. EXPAND THIS- WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY ‘BECAUSE OF THE MALE CHARACTERS’. However, Barker’s voice is not completely absent from the text. The character of Prior has many similarities to Barker in the fact that they are both from a working class background. Prior is also an invented character in the novel so Barker is clearly not trying to make her voice absent from the text. Also, Barker tends to give the characters who she is more in sympathy with space in the narrative, while characters like Langdon, who considers neurasthenic patients as “…cowards, shirkers, scrimshankers and degenerates..” are not allowed to present their own viewpoints at all as they are not given passages of free indirect style.

This is in contrast such poem by Sassoon as “The General”, which does give us the viewpoints of the generals but these views are not explained to us. EXPAND THIS AND USE QUOTATIONS- NOT SURE WHAT YOUR POINT IS.

Barker has chosen the technique of free indirect style as it allows her to present her characters in many different ways. She wants the reader to understand both the social and psychological consequences of the war and free indirect style allows her to do this. YOU HAVE SAID MUCH OF THIS ALREADY. This technique is used especially with the character of Rivers: for example, it is clearly Rivers’ perspective that notes in Sassoon’s speech a stammer, but “…not the recent, self conscious stammer of a neurasthenic”. Without free indirect style it would become difficult for Barker to show Rivers’ real feelings. However it is not just personal feelings that Barker can illustrate using free indirect style. Rivers’ subconscious life is also shown. “Rivers became aware that he was gripping the edge of the parapet and consciously relaxed his hands.” This is also the first time it is made clear to the reader that Rivers may be suffering from war neurosis, as he himself has been traumatised by all the horrific stories he has heard. Rivers also has a stammer but we are told that he has had that since he was young, however another example that Rivers is suffering from mild symptoms of war neurosis is when his stammer gets progressively worse during a conversation with Prior. Here, Rivers has been affected by Prior’s graphically detailed story leading to his stammer to get worse.

In both episodes, Barker uses Rivers’ psychological awareness to present ideas about his own developing psychological trauma to the reader: a very subtle way of getting difficult ideas across to the reader that would otherwise be awkward to express without disrupting the flow of the narrative.
Barker uses phonetic misspelling and dialect words to draw her characters through the way they talk, for example Rivers’ medical speak and Prior’s strong Manchester accent, which Rivers shows a certain snobbery to. QUOTATION IN SUPPORT OF THIS PLEASE Barker also uses many examples of silence to indicate traumatised patients. This is evident in the character of Prior who is suffering from mutism. Prior writes down everything on paper in block capitals which when read give the impression that he is shouting. There are also many occasions in which there are either ‘pauses’ or ‘silences’. This is in contrast to “Great Men”, a poem by Siegfried Sassoon. This particular poem is short and very easy to read. When read, this poem also comes across as very pacey and punchy. QUOTATIONS AND ANALYSIS IN SUPPORT, PLEASE. One of Sassoon’s friends who at Craiglockhart was fellow poet Wilfred Owen who once described much of Sassoon’s poetry AS like “Trench Rockets”. EXPAND THIS- WHAT DIS OWEN MEAN BY THIS DESCRIPTION? “Great Men” is an ironic poem as he likens the Generals in charge of the war as being the “great ones of the earth”. This poem also has an angry voice throughout. In the final few lines of the poem it ends very abruptly with the view that the Generals should tell the dead of their great sacrifice for a good cause in the cemeteries where they are buried.
Free indirect style is the central narrative technique used in the novel Regeneration, however this method is also present in some of the poetry by Siegfried Sassoon. “The Death Bed” for example features free indirect style. The poem features the thoughts of a war veteran and his dreams where things in the present moment trigger war memories; these however are pleasant memories unlike those of Prior in the novel Regeneration. In the third stanza of the poem there is the line, “Blowing the curtain to a glimmering curve”. This very same line is used in the novel Regeneration on page 11 to describe the net curtain behind Rivers. “The Death Bed” features someone gradually dying and although the dreams of the war veteran started of pleasantly, in the fifth stanza the pain arrives “like a prowling beast”. Death here is also personified, as it is at this point the veteran is close to it. The overall tone of this poem is a sympathetic one to the soldiers involved with the war. Sassoon’s anger of the war comes through in the sixth stanza. “…how should he die / When cruel old campaigners win safe through?” The ending of the poem is a sombre and depressing conclusion. Here Sassoon comments that whilst this particular war veteran may have died, there are still more soldiers dying this very minute. Another example of multiple voices and free indirect style in Sassoon’ s poetry is in the “General”. It is a very short poem, only seven lines, but it features three different voices. These are Sassoon’s voice, the general’s voice and Harry’s voice. Despite it being a very short poem a lot can be discovered from it. Sassoon’s viewpoint comes across in the line, “Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ‘em dead”. This is a typical viewpoint by Sassoon as he was opposed to fighting in the war; he also has said similar trivial lines in other poems, including the “Death Bed” and “Does it Matter?” The fictional characters of Harry and Jack are fooled by the General’s cheeriness, as we then learn that they are now both dead. Once again, it is a very abrupt ending to a Sassoon poem, and this poem in particular features a lot of colloquial language. This poem overall, is contrasted between the generals cheerfulness and him then sending men to fight and die.
The poem “Does it Matter?” also features colloquial language, used ironically to present a serious subject. The opening line of the poem is a rhetorical question, “Does it matter? – Losing your legs?” This is a very trivial way to open a poem, especially as it is about the serious issue of losing your legs. There is a very jolly and happy tone coming across in this poem but also a patronising tone as well. The second stanza begins with another rhetorical question similar to the opening line, “Does it matter? – Losing your sight?” This can be read as a patronising question as the following line is “There’s such splendid work for the blind”. In this poem similar ideas come across in “Disabled”, a poem by Sassoon’s fellow patient and poet at Craiglockhart, Wilfred Owen. The poem is rhythmical and each line is separate and makes sense on its own. There is a very simple rhyming scheme as well, that simply goes A, B, B, C, and A in the opening stanza. The poem is heavy with punctuation also; something that lacks in some of Sassoon’s other work. WHAT’S THE EFFECT OF THIS HEAVY PUNCTUATION SCHEME? The overall style of this poem is ironic, because the question is asked by Sassoon, “Does it matter?” Sassoon makes out in this poem that it doesn’t matter, as he ridicules serious situations, however the irony is that it does matter. THIS IS POORLY EXPRESSED AND NEEDS RE-WRITING. This poem was written in 1917 at the war hospital of Craiglockhart and this too is written in free indirect style because not only does it feature Sassoon’s voice but also the voices and opinions of other people. WHY DOES THAT MEAN IT HAS TO BE WRITTEN IN FREE VERSE? IT DOESN’T, BUT YOUR SENTENCE HERE IMPLIES THAT IT DOES.“Glory of Women”, by Siegfried Sassoon is in contrast to the previous poems I looked at. This is a very angry poem, and is not just about war as it shows anger towards women as well. The style of the poem is monologic.COMPARE THIS WITH THE DIALOGIC OR POLYPHONIC STRUCTURE OF THE NOVEL, OR OF SOME OF SASSOON’S OTHER POEMS. The opening two lines of the poem are very patronising, prejudiceD and angry. “You love us when we’re heroes, home on leave, / or wounded in a mentionable place”. There is only one reference to the novel, Regeneration.NOT SURE OF WHAT YU MEAN- REFERENCE TO THE NOVEL BY WHOM? NOT BY SASSOON- HE DIED THIRTY YEARS BEFORE IT WAS WRITTEN! This is when Sassoon describes the women making shells to help the war effort. In the novel, the character of Sarah Lumb also does this. SO WHAT? IS BARKER USING HER NOVEL TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE WOMEN SASSOON DOES NOT GIVE VOICE TO? PART OF HER MULTIPLE-NARRATOR, POLYPHIONIC STRUCTURE In the final few lines of the poem Sassoon describes how it is not only the English that are suffering, it is the Germans as well, despite them being our opposition. During the Great War, this would have been a controversial thing to have said, but Sassoon does have links to Germany as his mother was German, NO SHE WASN’T- SHE JUST LIKE GERMAN OPERA! hence his foreign sounding name. NO SUGGESTION OF SASSOON HAVING GERMAN SYMPATHIES- IN FACT, HE ADMITTED (BARKER WRITES A SCENE BASED ON HIS ADMISSION) TO HATING GERMANS AND GOING OUT ON NIGHT PATROL SPECIFICALLY TO KILL AS MANY AS HE COULD, ALTHOUGH SUCH ACTION HAD NO STRATEGIC VALUE, IN REVENGE FOR THE DEATH OF HIS BELOVED BROTHER The overall idea of this poem is all about women turning away from mutilation and the real horrors of the war. This can be compared to the part in the novel in which Sarah Lumb visits Craiglockhart hospital. She is uncomfortable to be in the hospital, but this was because she felt disgusted that all this men were put into a secret and ‘hidden’ ward. AGAIN, USE QUOTATIONS AND CONCENTRATE ON THE WAY BARKER GIVES A VOICE TO THE FEMALE CHARCTERS OR FEMALE PERSPECTIVE SASSON’S POETRY LEAVES VOICELESS.
“Counter Attack” is more of an epic poem by Sassoon. It features some very graphic details of death, and parts of the poem are in free indirect style whilst some are not. The second stanza is not in free indirect style, but the following stanza is. EFFECT OF THIS? There are several voices in this part, Sassoon’s, a soldier and another soldier who ‘remembers his rifle’. The next 6 – 8 lines are written in the 3rd person, but the last line of the poem is a neutral line and is back to the voice of the poet again. The last line simply reads, “The counter – attack had failed”, a sombre ending to the poem. Overall this is a very detailed account of a failed counter attack which includes some graphic images of death and fear that can be compared to the detail of Prior’s hypnosis experience, however the only difference is that Barker used Prior’s hypnosis scene from research whereas Sassoon used his from memory.The two poems by Sassoon, “Repression of War Experience” and “Letter to Robert Graves” are both very similar in how they can be compared and contrasted to parts of the novel Regeneration. “Letter to Robert Graves” is a particular lengthy poem, it has a political stance which are normally easy to understand but this is difficult and complicated as it features invented words. The poem is in the form of a letter to make it more authentic and personal. NOT REALLY TO MAKE IT MORE PERSONAL- SASSOON NEVER WANTED IT PUBLISHED, IT IS GENUINE LYRIC POEM EXPRESSING PRIVATE THOUGHTS TO A TRUSTED FRIEND RATHER THAN BEING A POEM FOR ‘PUBLIC CONSUMPTION’ In the third stanza of the poem, it is almost in a stream of consciousness and toward the end of the poem Sassoon explains how he can’t write or appreciate happy poetry any more, “All crammed with village verses about Daffodils and Geese - …O Jesu make it cease…” This is a particular important poem as Robert Graves is a character from the novel. THIS SENTENCE MAKES NO SENSE- GRAVES WAS A REAL FRIEND OF SASSOON’S, AND BARKER FICTIONALIZES HIM JUST AS SHE FICTIONALIZES SASSOON This was a very personal poem, as Sassoon never wanted it to be published whilst he was still alive, most of his poetry is public but this is private. WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES THIS MAKE TO THE NARRATIVE VOICE OF THE POEM?

“Repression of War Experience”, too features a part of the novel Regeneration. DOESN’T- YOU JUST MEANIT CAN BE COMPARED TO AN ASPECT OF THE NOVEL This poem enacts the thoughts of Sassoon using free verse. There are parts of this poem that are very similar to Burns’ scene in the woods in the novel. It is possibly likely that Barker took her idea for Burn’s session in the woods from the poetry of Sassoon. GOOD- EXEMPLIFY, USE QUOTATIONS!
Overall, a lot of Barkers influence from writing her novel may have came from the poetry of Sassoon. Some of the ideas in the poems, “Disabled”, “Repression of war experience” and “Glory of women” can be linked to certain parts of the novel. It is also clear that Barker shares Sassoon’s approach to include free indirect style as a narrative technique. Several of Sassoon’s poetry includes passages of free indirect style, although in this case it is likely that Barker chose to use free indirect style for Regeneration as her narrative technique as she thought that it would work best, its just coincidental that Sassoon uses the same technique in some of his poetry.



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