Monday, April 24, 2006

y13: Kyle- this will be yours then, marked. Very good so far, and you've even go a critical comment in it, so that's AO4 at least covered. I've given you an idea at the end of where to take it from here.


Pat Barker’s Regeneration is a novel based around the inhabitants of Craiglockhart war hospital in Scotland IN 1917 and contains a mixture of fictional characters and fictionalized historical figures, such as Siegfried Sassoon and Captain W.H.R. Rivers. Barker maintains an informed historical perspective on both real and imagined events, along with a fresh approach to the well-trodden ground of novels about the Great War: Regeneration is concerned with the psychological and sociological consequences of war experience, rather than with the battlefield itself.Barker’s novel can be described as polyphonic: her narrative is presented through a multiplicity of different voices reflecting the personalities, social backgrounds and viewpoints of her characters, meaning the story of the novel is composed of this variety of individual stories. The larger architecture of the novel helps present rounded characters and Barker’s third person narrator is able to dip in and out of their viewpoints using free indirect style, perhaps the dominant narrative technique of the novel. In contrast with Barker’s historical perspective, Siegfried Sassoon wrote most of his poetry contemporaneously with the war and his purpose was to present not only what he had personally experienced but also to make a political point: to help show his opposition to the war’s continuation and to highlight, “political errors”. Not only this, he wanted to elicit sympathy for the suffering soldiers and help raise the public’s attention about what they were going through. VERY GOOD SO FAR, KYLE.The often short, linguistically dense poems Sassoon wrote are much more emotionally direct than Barker’s more expansive, exploratory text. For example the poem “Enemies” is a nightmarish imagined encounter between a soldier (likely to be Sassoon’s own brother) stood among the “hulking Germans” the voice of the poem had “shot” and reduced to “patient, stupid, sullen ghosts of men;”. Told almost certainly in Sassoon’s own, authentic, autobiographical voice, the poem showS the repercussions of the war on his psychology and imagination. This very hard hitting, inescapably personal approach in Sassoon’s poetry is apparent in his talk of the Germans, “that I shot / When for his death my brooding rage was hot”; a mission of vengenace that the voice finds ultimately unsatisfactory and even unexplainable. It is the dead Germans who, at the conclusion of the poem, can see why they were killed, not because of the voice’s explanations of his anger but “Because his face could make them understand.”
It is interesting however, THAT Rivers theorises that the fictionalized Sassoon of Regeneration may have recovered from war trauma so quickly because his poetry was a “therapeutic” way of him expressing his feelings, helping him to deal with his repressed memories, confused and conflicting emotions of sympathy and hatred and his horrifying nightmares. The reader can certainly see elements of this “therapeutic” benefit in a poem like “Enemies”.This tendency of Sassoon to use his own voice, which is often angry and satirical and yet frequently reveals, perhaps accidentally, the complexity of his own psychology and the war’s affects on it, is in contrast with the variety of individual character voices Barker very carefully ‘directs’ in her novel. GOOD POINT This is a major point of difference in narrative technique between the novel and the poetry: Sassoon’s voice may be complex, but it always remains recognisably Sassoon’s, whereas Barker’s voice is disguised behind the characters she creates or fictionalizes for the novel. She does this so effectively by using free indirect style, giving her the ability to gain many perspectives on different situations and issues surrounding the war. Also, and perhaps more importantly, her use of free indirect style means she can maintain the advantages of the third person narrative perspective while allowing the reader to distinguish the characters’ voices as she alters her style of writing to correspond with their individual personalities and backgrounds. This helps gain an intimacy with each character and develops a recognizable voice for the reader to identify.For example, when Sassoon first has a conversation with Rivers at “afternoon tea” for new arrivals we hear his perspective describing the light on the curtains in the room as a “glimmering arc”, the poetic voice used helps the reader know who is talking. This mirrors an image in Sassoon’s poem “The Death Bed” –“Blowing the curtain to a glimMering curve”- presenting Barker’s research into capturing a true to life voice for Sassoon.
We can see something similar happening in the voice she creates for character of Captain Rivers. For example, as he heads down a corridor at Craiglockhart the narrative voice notes that “Pipes lined the walls……gurgling from time to time like lengths of human intestine”; here, through the medical references used, the reader understands the description to be from Rivers’ viewpoint.Timothy Marshall, in his discussion of free indirect style in Mikhail Bakhtin’s work Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, comments that Dostoevsky’s novels contain many voices: “They are so because, in his view, language is constitutively intersubjective (therefore social) and logically precedes subjectivity. It is never neutral, unaddressed, exempt from the aspirations of others. In his word it is dialogic”. This perspective deals with the idea that free indirect style is not the reader overhearing the voice or thoughts of the characters, but that the author is allowing the reader to hear what he wants us to pick up from the character, in order to grasp a better understanding about the individual. This therefore creates for the reader a recognizable voice , and one which we are almost ‘tricked’ into believing is authentic because it is not the same as the author’s narrative voice. VERY GOOD DISCUSSION THIS, AND YOU HAVE ‘NAILED’ THE AO4 REQUIREMENT WITH IT AS WELL. Sassoon’s voice in the poem insists that it is authentic because the reader is likely to know Sassoon himself experienced what he writes about. In contrast, Barker’s voices seem authentic because they are different from each other, making them seem individual and the novel seem ‘polyphonic’ or ‘dialogic’ in structure. To help grasp a fuller understanding and gain a further insight into how Pat Barker uses free indirect style to help identify voices we can concentrate on one character, Billy Prior. Within Billy Prior’s own individual story, Pat Barker dives into his past and both his sociological and psychological rehabilitation within the novel. We are first introduced to Billy Prior as a mute Second-Lieutenant who can not communicate with anyone apart from through the use of a pen and pad. The way in which Pat Barker presents this is not necessarily his voice, but certainly his means of communication through the pad is always important, as Prior always writes in capital letters “I DONT REMEMBER”. NO NEED FOR THIS QUOTE REALLY IF YOU’RE JUST USING IT TO PROVE PRIOR WRITES IN CAPITALS. This when Prior is being asked what his nightmares are about as a way of Rivers helping his rehabilitation. So the introduction of Prior shows him as always being angry through the use of the capital letters on the pad, although Prior himself argues that capitals are simply ‘clearer’ and Rivers thinks he may be trying to disguise his handwriting so it can’t be analysed. Prior is seen as being very much a man not willing to share information about anything purely because he does not “REMEMBER”. Apart form this we at first are not able to gain any more information about Prior at this stage. Prior’s mutism has gone further in Regeneration as he wakes up “shouting” we begin to gain more detail about his true voice a distinctly “northern accent”. In a conversation with Rivers we see Prior’s resistance to talk about what he has gone through. “I don’t think talking helps. It just churns things up”: not that he does not want to be helped, he just finds it hard to confront his emotions. When Prior does begin to slightly open up he adopts a different voice, a satirical one aimed at higher ranked soldiers GOD POINT THIS, AND ONE WORTH EXPANDING ON. “The pride of the British army….”. This helps to show Prior’s anger towards the army and he goes on to describe how he was dugout in “no mans land” for “forty-eight hours” and had to stay there while he and his soldiers were bombarded with “one shell after the other”. Proir’s voice now has been able to develop and give the reader a more rounded look on him as a character and start to identify his voice by itself. The satirical voice also appears in confrontations with Rivers about his own stammer “luck for you, I mean…if your stammer was the same as theirs- you might actually have to sit down and work out” YOU NEED TO FINISH THIS QUOTE_ YOU DON’T WANT TO LEAVE IT HANGING LIKE THIS.
The confrontational voice with Rivers a person in Priors in seeming power REDRAFT THIS SENTENCE- DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE AT THE MOMENT can be compared with the satirical voices adopted in Sassoons poetry. For example in the poem “The General” with his seemingly cheery outlook “Good morning, good morning” is perceived to have no sympathy at all. He is seen to have smiled at soldiers even though he knows soon his order will have “most of ‘ em dead” These young boys however are inevitably going to die “by his plans of attack”. The satirical voice and epic voce Sassoon uses is very similar to the way Barker manpulates Priors own actions towards Rivers in some respects. AGAIN< THIS IS GOOD POINT I’D LIKE EXPANDED_ DEFINE ‘EPIC VOICE’ FOR STARTERS AND HOW SASSOON USES IT IN THE POEM, HOW IT’S DIFFERENT FROM THE LYRIC VOICE OF SOME OF HIS OTHER VERSE, SUCH AS LETTER TO ROBERT GRAVES.Through the relationship with Sarah Lumb we are able to gain another persons viewpoint on the situation of the war and the consequences of this on the people and also society. We are also able to draw both contrasting and comparative aspects with Sassoon’s poetry through the character of Sarah Lumb. Sarah Lumb is first introduced to us at a café in Edinburgh, her voice at first is very much representative of her character: a northern hard working women paid just “fifty bob a week”. This character may also not only be a love interest for Prior but in another way a tool for Barker to portray something she has a lot of knowledge of, as expressed through her other novels: a working-class woman’s own point of view on things. Sarah Lumb’s interaction with Prior develops through the novel and the narration even dips into her consciousness and voice on numerous occasions with the usage of free-indirect style. NICELY DONE THS PASSAGE- THINK ABOUTBARKER GIVING VOICE TO THE VOICELESS WITH SARAH, ESPECIALLY AS SASSON TENDS TO BE PATRONISING TOWRDS WOMEN AND GIVES LITTLE VALUE OR SYMPATHY TO THEM IN POEMS LIKE ‘THE GLORY OF WOMEN’- SOME NOTES ON THIS IN THE TEXT OF ED’S ESSAY.

The first instance of this is when Sarah and “Madge” go to visit Madge’s injured boyfriend in hospital. As Sarah walks around the hospital “corridors” she notices that “none of these men was badly wonded”. As she continues through the corridors she finds herself lost and then enters an area where she becomes very “aware of a silence…..by her entrance”. The free indirect style here by Barker is used to show Sarahs own voice and reaction to “a row of figures in wheelchairs”. These people hidden away with “trouserlegs sewn short: empty sleeves pinned to jackets” are also something Sassoon covers in two of his own poems “Glory of women” and to some extent in “Does it Matter”. USE QUOTATIONS TO SHOW THE CLOSENESS OF THE TWO PASSAGES- DOES ONE INSPIRE OR INFORM THE OTHER? Glory of Women almost seems based on Sarah Lumbs own character in the line “You make us shells” as within Regeneration Sarah’s actual JOB is that very thing.The final line in Sassoons very single minded satirical voice best describes the almost delusional invisionments NOT SURE WHAT YOU MEAN BY THIS- RE-WRITE IT. on some women and their thoughts of there men fighting in the war. “knitting socks to send your son, His face is being trodden deeper into the mud”. Sasssons very blunt point of view is one Barker challenges through the voice of Sarah Lumb. Sarah becomes very angry about the way these soldiers are hidden away and comes to the conclusions that “If the country demanded that price, then it should bloody be well prepared to look at the result”. Her own voice showing the anger that she feels for these men. One that almost mirrors Sassoons views in “Glory for Women” and his own personal ones he feels about the treAtment of injured soldiers and the war on a whole. This revelation in the book here helps to bring in a female opposition to the war and let them voice there opinions in a very male dominated novel. THIS DISCUSSION WORKS A TREAT- JUST CORRECT IT IN THE PLACES I’VE INDICATED
KYLE- VERY GOOD SO FAR, YOU NOW NEED TO GET THE POETRY HALF DONE, ALTHOUGH YOU’VE MADE A GOOD START TO IT HERE- YOU NEED ABOUT 800 MORE WORDS, AND REMEMBER, MAYBE 8 POEMS ALL TOLD- CERTAINLY NO FEWER THAN THAT. I’D DEFINE ‘EPIC VOICE’ NOW AND THEN LOOK AT THE POEMS THAT BALANCE BETWEEN EPIC AND LYRIC- LIKE THE DEATH BED, AND THEN GO ON TO THE LYRIC ONES, ESPECIALLY LETTERTO ROBERT GRAVES, AND HOW THEY SHOW SASSOON’S PUBLIC AND PRIVATE FACES IN THE SAME WAY THAT BARKER’S DIALOGUE SHOWS HER CHARACTER’S PUBLIC FACES AND HER USE OF F.I.S SHOWS THEIR PRIVATE FACES.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aimie: this my first complete draft. it is 3416 words and i have only mentioned 6 poems. who is it?


Pat Barker’s novel Regeneration is based on the neurasthenic war hospital, Craiglockhart just outside of Edinburgh. Barker uses fictional and fictionalised characters throughout Regeneration with one of the main characters being W.H.S Rivers, one of the hospitals doctors. Barker uses her characters, be they fictional or fictionalised, and allows the reader to see the psychological consequences of The Great War on so many soldiers and civilians. She does this by favouring the first person voice which allows the reader to understand a particular character’s feelings, views and opinions on the war, and therefore the consequences of it. She skilfully balances this with the social consequences of The Great War, which she reflects through a third person narrator. We see the social consequences through civilians on the home front, as well as from soldiers and doctors at Craiglockhart. Barker takes a fresh new approach to writing a war novel in this sense as she doesn’t focus on the battlefield itself, like so many war novel authors choose to do. She wanted to explore her techniques as a writer and break away from her typical style – writing about middle-class northern women. As Barker has so many vivid characters her choice to narrate in the third person is a wise one. She makes Regeneration a polyphonic novel through the use of free indirect style which allows her to have more then one voice and to drop into all her characters heads, making them psychologically transparent. This gives the novel more depth and movement, as Barker is not restricting her novel to one perspective. Regeneration was written as proof to Barker’s critics that she could write about men in a male environment as it was something she had never done before. She also wanted to take a different approach to a war novel by focusing on the consequences of the battlefield, not the battlefield itself. The other reason she wrote Regeneration was purely for entertainment.
In contrast with Barker’s historical perspective, writing as she did with a modern sensibility about the war and almost 80 years after the event took place, Siegfried Sassoon was writing contemporaneous (should this be contemporaneously?) with The Great War. As Sassoon is one of Barker’s main characters, she has featured some of his poetry in Regeneration and also the declaration he wrote which lead to his arrival at Craiglockhart. There are a many contrasts between Barker and Sassoon with the main one being that Barker wrote a novel and Sassoon wrote a collection of poetry. This leads to a vast difference in style and purpose. Sassoon’s poetry tends to be very brief and powerful getting his point across firmly in an emotive manner. He presents his poetry with a single voice, choosing his language carefully due to the briefness of his writing and the need of an instant reaction. The purpose of Sassoon’s poetry was to make a political point as he became strongly apposed to the war. He also wanted to show civilians back at home what the war was really like for the soldiers involved. He wanted to show that it was bloody and ruthless and that many young men died needlessly. His declaration is an excellent example of this and in some ways is the starting point for Sassoon’s voice as a soldier and Barker’s collection of many voices. His poetry is emotive as he is writing from first hand experience at the time it was happening, unlike Barker whose text is the product of research and literary imagination. Where Sassoon’s poetry mostly directed through a single voice, Barker writes in a more discursive manner due to the polyphonic style of the novel. This is also achievable because she is writing a novel so has more time to explore different ideas.

Regeneration contains many different narrative voices which are all need to allow the novel to grow and progress as there is no first person narrator. It is vital that Barker allows her character’s to speak for themselves without smothering them with her own opinion. However the absents of Barker’s voice is not complete from the novel. Through free indirect style Barker manages to perform a narrative trick by telling us what she wants the reader to think about a character “Small blue eyes, nibbled gingery moustache” tells us what Anderson looks like and that the war may have made him a nervous man from the description of his moustache, and “Mr Prior looked him shrewdly up and down” informs the reader that Mr Prior may be a crafty man. Another way in which Barker’s voice can be heard throughout the novel is by the amount of narrative space she gives each character. Barker clearly believes that neurasthenia does exist therefore gives more narrative space to characters who share her opinion, like Rivers.
Free indirect style not only allows us to see what the character with the narrative space sees, it also allows us hear a characters thought process. “After all, why not?” shows us Sassoon thinking things over in his head and justifying his response. This can only be done through this narrative technique and allows Barker to show the reader a very personal side to each character.
Burns, a war soldier at Craiglockhart, was thrown by an explosion face first into a rotting corpse. When Rivers is talking to him about upsetting other people and Burns mentions that he wouldn’t have to worry about upsetting anyone if he could eat in his own room, Barker writes from River’s perspective “Yes, Burns would worry about upsetting other people”. This tells us that Rivers is disagreeing in his head with what Burns has just said. We know he hasn’t said it out loud as there are no speech marks and Burns doesn’t enforce his own comment. River’s thought also tells us something about Burns. It shows us that Burns is a generally nice guy as he worries about his actions upsetting others. This idea is reinforced when we see through free indirect style that Rivers is thinking to himself “He’s agreeing to make me feel useful, he thought”. “he thought” is the key part of the sentence as it gives the reader the knowledge that it was a look inside his head at his thoughts, not just third person narration. Burn’s worries about upsetting other people demonstrate some of the social consequences of the war. When Burns tries to eat he is violently sick due to his experience. This means he can no longer eat in public due to his embarrassment but not just that, he will affect everyone around him as well.
Prior’s experiences lead to him being psychologically affected by the war as we see through his hypnosis. His hypnosis can by closely linked to Sassoon’s Counter- Attack as it is based on memories of an event. The hypnosis, through free indirect style, tells us about the specific point that leads him to Craiglockhart as we see it through his eyes. He woke up to the smell of “stale farts” is his own interpretation of the smell of the trenches. Rivers is allowing him to remember what happened by taking him back to the trenches in France. As Prior became mute he wanted to find out the cause of it. Another advantage of free indirect style is that it allows there to be a change of time, setting or character without having to explain to the reader what is happening. We can see this before Prior’s hypnosis begins as he is talking to Rivers and then is back in France. Barker shows a change in time, setting or character by beginning a new paragraph, making it clear a change has happened. What Barker wanted to depict with Prior was that he was from a working class background but was an officer, a title of a well educated middle class man. Many of the soldiers would have suffered from mutism because if they were to say something negative about the war’s cause or reasons for fighting, the consequences would have been catastrophic, plus no one would have listened. However, officers tended to stutter or stammer due to the psychological effects of the war, like River’s increasing stutter, “That’s d-different” and Sassoon’s introducing stammer, “or or otherwise” which is a complete contrast to his poetry, where he writes in a clear manner with complete fluidity. This was because an officer was more likely to be listened to. It is almost as if the soldier’s subconscious is preventing them from speaking to save a disciplinary. As Prior is from a working class background and has been looked down on by other officers and even Rivers at first, he is showing the psychological effects of the war of a soldier not an officer. Here it is possible to hear Barker’s opinion and voice coming through again as she can relate to Prior as they were both working class. It also feels like Barker is having a go at society at the time of The Great War for still having prejudices about social class at a time when everyone was in the same position, they were at war as one. Barker portrays Prior’s mutism by making him write down what he wants to say. “Prior reached for the notepad and pencil” is something that we read through Barker’s free indirect style. Rivers is observing Prior waiting for him to answer his question. Prior replies to him by writing “I DON’T REMEMBER.”. Not only is Prior mute but he is also angry, maybe at not knowing why he is mute, maybe for being in hospital when he wants to be back at the front or maybe because people like Sister Rogers have taken a disliking to him and he feels Rivers might as well. We know he is angry as he writes in block capitals so it appears he is shouting.
Another area that Barker looks at is the social voices of characters and the language they use. The majority of the characters in Regeneration are officers therefore are well spoken. We know this as Barker writes in well-spoken tone to reflect her characters. However characters like Billy Prior and Sarah Lumb are from working backgrounds, so Barker reflects this by the language she uses. When Prior is around Sarah, a northern girl, his roots come out and he starts to relax the manner in which he talks. “I always paddle with me boots on” shows that he has dropped the “my” for a “me” making an ungrammatically correct sentence. Also the fact that Prior is using a metaphor to talk about contraception helps emphasis his social class. Sarah however understands his metaphor. It is possible to see River’s snobbery emerge when Prior’s voice returns. We hear through free indirect style that “hearing Prior’s voice for the first time had the curious effect of making him look different” to River’s. In the real world River’s would never have to associate with men like Prior as they are from different words, yet Prior is from a working class background and the same rank as Sassoon, something River’s was not aware of. We her Sarah’s voice and accent through her speech, “Aye, and they can stop there ‘n’ all”. Ada Lumb tries to correct Sarah’s grammar, “You don’t say “what”, Sarah. You say “pardon””, but then she mispronounces “gunna”, “gotta” and “mebbe”. She is aware that it more socially acceptable to be well spoken and wants Sarah to be socially accepted. Ada may feel that Sarah and herself can hide the fact they are working class by speaking in a more educated manner, as when she speaks to strangers she “switches to her genteel voice”, trying to sound refined and courteous. Barker uses phonetic misspelling and dialect to show the social effects of the war on all members of society, not just the soldier as is by and large the case with war novels. It also brings a contrast between the different characters of the novel, Prior’s Manchester and Sarah’s northern accent juxtapose River’s and Sassoon’s educated dialect. Sassoon, in his poetry, also adds voices making his officer characters possess a “stiff upper lip” euphemistic language.
Throughout his poetry, Sassoon tends to narrate in his own voice, however critics often state that there are three voices in poetry; the lyric voice, the epic voice and the dramatic voice. The majority of Sassoon’s writing is written with an epic voice as he is trying to drum up sympathy for the soldiers fighting and loosing their lives. In Repression of War Experiences Sassoon writes in an epic voice, saying that the cause of neurasthenia is mainly down to repressing memories of the war. “And it’s been proven that soldiers don’t go mad unless they lose control of ugly thoughts that drive them out to jabber among the trees”. Sassoon, through writing his poetry, has not repressed his feelings on the war and has managed to help himself by writing out his dark memories. However this extract from Repression of War Experiences tells the reader that there are plenty of men who have tried to bury their experiences with the hope that the memories would go away. This leads them to have severe mental breakdowns leading to irrational behaviour. We see in Regeneration that Burns, one of Barker’s fictional characters, has an episode in the woods. “He stood again in front of the tree” is Burn’s memories and experiences leading him to do exactly what Sassoon wrote about in Repression of War Experiences. The chances that Barker took this event of Burn’s from this poem of Sassoon’s are almost definite as he is a reflection of what Sassoon describes. Even though Sassoon showed “no obvious signs of nervous disorder” according to River’s, we see from Repression of War Experiences that he hears guns being fired and shells going off, “you can hear the guns…I’m going crazy”. Sassoon’s poetry works in the same way as River’s hypnosis and encouragement to remember war experiences. Counter-Attack is based on Sassoon’s memories or events that he is sure would have happened, as it was first drafted in the trenches. This poem contains an epic voice again with evidence of a satire and political voice also. “An officer came blundering down the trench…”Fire-step…counter-attack!”” has the clear-cut image of no strong authority in the trenches. Sassoon uses the elision to show the panic in the officer’s voice and his clear lack of leadership skills. Sassoon is using this officer to make the point that many platoons are lead by men who are not capable of leading. The soldiers “sank and drowned, bleeding to death” like so many of the young men fighting in the war. This is why Sassoon tells River “I’m going back” because we wants his men to have a fighting chance. This poem can also be linked with Prior’s hypnosis as they are both written as memories. Barker’s free indirect style allows us to see into Prior’s past, where similarly Sassoon uses free indirect style to allow us to see the perspectives of different people in the trench.
Sassoon, like Barker doesn’t completely focus his poetry on the battlefield itself. He tries to show the consequences of the war for soldiers who are no longer at war with the enemy, but are still fighting with their war demons, having to live with the mental and physical scars and memories. In Does it Matter, Sassoon demonstrates this point well. He writes with an angry voice which projects through the irony throughout the poem. “Does it matter? – losing your sight? There’s such splendid work for the blind” demonstrates his irony. He is reflecting this poem on societies attitudes towards war victims pointing out that society will see that a soldier is still alive and expect him to be grateful and get on with it. Sassoon tries to point out that a soldier losing his eyes doesn’t affect his sight as he can still see all the terrible things that took place in the trenches. The structure of Does it Matter? is very different to that of Counter-Attack as it is a short, powerful poem that is made punchy by the use of grammar. Each line forms a unit of sense as there is a natural pause at the end, adding emphasis to the last word. This makes the poem sound hard and gives it a clear rhythm which helps stress the point of the poem. Also Sassoon’s use of punctuation, mainly the placement of elision, causes pauses and allows the reader to ponder what he has just said, “losing your leg?...”, “losing your sight?...”. In Regeneration we can see Sarah shares the frustration that Sassoon does. We know through Barker’s use of free indirect style that she gives Sarah the opinion of “if the country demand the price, then it should bloody well be prepared to look at the result” when she stumbles across a hidden ward at the hospital full of physically mutated men. Glory of Women looks at similar ideas as Does it Matter? As it explores men’s fears that women don’t want to know about what actually went on in the trenches, they want to think of their men as “heroes”. Sassoon writes this in an angry voice using only one voice through the poem. He believes that women only want to look at wounds “in a mentionable place” because they don’t want a handicapped man. Barker however takes a more sympathetic approach making Sarah feel that “Simply by being there…, a pretty girl, she had made everything worse.”
Letter to Robert Graves is what it sounds. It is a lyrical poem using Sassoon’s person voice, therefore his personal experiences, throughout. It is a therapeutic poem as he tells Graves about his experiences in the trenches. “I timed my death in action to the minute”, shows how unhappy Sassoon was in the battlefield. He depicts his state of mind when he was in a hospital by showing how he had no sense of time, “MarshMoonStreetMeiklejohnArdoursandenduranSitwellitis” as everyone who visited him merged into one. However Sassoon writing poetry has helped him through his war dilemmas, as did Burn’s episode in the woods. Yet more evidence of free indirect style can by seen in Regeneration when Barker writes “now they could dissolve into the earth as they were meant to do” when Burns puts all the dead animals on the ground. It is therapeutic as he feels as if he is giving his fellow soldiers the dignity of being allowed to dissolve into the ground, like the animals, and rest peacefully.
The General is a polyphonic poem as Sassoon includes the General’s voice, Harry’s voice – a soldier – and his own voice. It is an epic poem making a political statement. Sassoon is protesting on behalf of all the dead soldier, Harry and Jack, who died by the “General’s” “plan of attack”. This poem is similar to Counter-Attack as we hear Sassoon’s voice in the poem as an angry protest against the way Generals were leading their men. Through Barker’s research for Regeneration she would have become aware of Sassoon’s views on the generals at the war front and subsequently lets the reader know this by allowing Sassoon to say “they don’t give a damn about the “Bobbies” and the “Tommies””.
Both Sassoon and Barker base their writing around the time of The First World War – 1917 – and both portray the effects it had on a different level then other war poets and war novelists. They both independently include the use of imaginary voices in their work through free indirect style allowing for many view points to be considered thus making their work polyphonic. Although a lot of Sassoon’s poems contain only one narrative voice, he has the ability to change the tone giving his poems different meanings and addressing different members of society. Barker sets her novel in one location being Craiglockhart, with the exception of flash backs. Regeneration is, according to Jackie Wullschlager, “caged in a distinct time and place” thus weakening the novel. However, it could be said that the purpose of Craiglockhart being the main location, and the lack of description Barker provides for it, are necessary to portray the intensity of each character’s war neurosis. It is as if Barker mimics their memories of the war, which are locked in one place - each mans head - by only giving the characters one place to go, hence allowing her the opportunity to let these memories boil inside each man then explode.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kyle's first finished draft the end is weak in my opinion but i have a leat got a copy to u at last. I have added in the alteration you mentioned to do on tues so nearly there now.

Pat Barker’s regeneration is a novel based around the inhabitants of Craiglockhart war hospital in Scotland and contains a mixture of fictional characters and fictionalized historical figures, such as Siegfried Sassoon and Captain W.H.R. Rivers. Barker maintains an informed historical perspective on both real and imagined events, along with a fresh approach to the well-trodden ground of novels about the Great War. Regeneration is concerned with the psychological and sociological consequences of
war, rather than the battlefield itself.

Barker’s novel can be described as polyphonic: her narrative is presented through a multiplicity of different voices reflecting the personalities, social backgrounds and viewpoints of her characters, meaning the story of the novel is composed of a variety of individual stories. The larger architecture of the novel helps present rounded characters and Barker’s third person narrator is able to dip in and out of their viewpoints using free indirect style, most definitely the dominant narrative technique of the novel. In contrast with Barker’s historical perspective, Siegfried Sassoon wrote most of his poetry contemporaneously with the war and his purpose was to present not only what he had personally experienced but also to make a political point: to help show his opposition to the war’s continuation and to highlight ‘political errors’. Not only this, he wanted to elicit sympathy for the suffering soldiers and help raise the public’s awareness of what they were going through.

The often short, linguistically dense poems Sassoon wrote are much more emotionally direct that Barker’s more expansive, exploratory text. For example, the poem “Enemies” is a nightmarish, imagined encounter between soldiers (likely to be Sassoon’s own brother) stood among the “hulking Germans” the voice within the poem had “shot” and reduced the “patient, stupid, sullen ghosts of men”. Told almost certainly in Sassoon’s own, authentic, autobiographical voice, the poem shows the repercussions of the war on his psychology and imagination. This very hard-hitting, inescapably personal approach in Sassoon’s poetry is apparent in the talk of the Germans “that I shot/When for his death my brooding rage was hot”; a mission of vengeance that the voice finds ultimately unsatisfactory and even unexplainable. It is the dead Germans who, at the conclusion of the poem, can see why they were killed, not because of the voice’s explanations of his anger but “Because his face could make them understand”. It is interesting however, that Rivers theorises that the fictionalized Sassoon of Regeneration may have recovered from war trauma so quickly because his poetry was a “therapeutic” way of him expressing his feelings, helping him to deal with his repressed memories, confused and conflicting emotions of sympathy and hatred and his horrifying nightmares. The reader can certainly see elements of this “therapeutic” benefit in a poem like “Enemies”.

This tendency of Sassoon to use his own voice, which is often angry and satirical, yet frequently reveals, perhaps accidentally, the complexity of his own psychology and the war’s affect on it, this is in contrast with the variety of individual character voices Barker very carefully ‘directs’ in her novel. This is a major point of difference in narrative technique between the novel and the poetry: Sassoon’s voice may be complex, but it always remains recognisably Sassoon’s whereas Barker’s voice is disguised behind the characters she creates or fictionalizes for the novel. She does this so effectively by using free indirect style, giving her the ability to gain many perspectives on different situations and issues surrounding the war. Also, and perhaps more importantly, her use of free indirect style means she can maintain the advantages of the third person narrative perspective while allowing the reader to correspond with their individual personalities and backgrounds. This helps gain an intimacy with each character and develops a recognizable voice for the reader to identify with.

For example, when Sassoon first has a conversation with Rivers at “afternoon tea” for new arrivals we hear his perspective describing the light on the curtains in the room as a “glimmering arc”, the poetic voice used helps the reader know who is talking. This mirrors an image in Sassoon’s poem “The Death Bed” – “Blowing the curtain to a glimmering curve” – presenting Barker’s research into capturing a true to life voice for Sassoon. We can see something similar happening in the voice she creates for the character of Captain. Rivers. For example, as he heads down a corridor at Craiglockahart the narrative voice notes that “pipes lined the walls….gurgling from time to time like lengths of human intestine”. Here, the use of the medical reference helps the reader understands the description to be from Rivers’ viewpoint.

Timothy Marshall, in his discussion of free indirect style in Mikhail Bakhtin’s work Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, comments that Dostoevsky’s novels contain many voices: “They are so because I, in his view, language is constitutively intersubjective (Therefore social) and logically precedes subjectivity. It is never neutral, unaddressed, exempt from the aspirations of others. In his word it is dialogic”. This perspective deals with the idea that free indirect style is not the reader overhearing the voice or thoughts of the characters, but that the author is allowing the reader to hear what he wants us to pick up from the character, in order to grasp a better understanding about the individual. This therefore creates for the reader a recognizable voice, and one that we are almost “tricked” into believing is authentic because it is not the same as the author’s narrative voice. Sassoon’s voice in his poems insists that it is authentic because the reader is likely to know Sassoon himself experienced what he writes about. In contrast, Barker’s voices seem authentic because they are different from each other, making them seem individual and the novel be looked at as ‘polyphonic’ or ‘dialogic’ in structure.

To help grasp a fuller understanding and gain a further insight into how Pat Barker uses free indirect style, to help identify voices we can concentrate on one character, Billy Prior. Within Billy Prior’s own individual story, Pat Barker dives into his past along with both his sociological and psychological rehabilitation inside the novel. We are first introduced to Billy Prior as a mute Second Lieutenant who cannot communicate with anyone apart from through the use of a pen and pad. The way in which Pat Barker presents this not necessarily his voice, but certainly his means of communication through the pad is important, as Prior always writes in capital letters “I DON’T REMEMBER”. This when Prior is being asked what his nightmares are about as a way of Rivers helping his rehabilitation. So the introduction of Prior shows him as always being angry through the use of the capital letters on the pad, although Prior himself argues that capitals are simply ‘clearer’ and Rivers thinks he maybe trying to disguise his handwriting so that it can’t be analysed. Prior is seen as being very much a man not willing to share information about anything purely because he does not ‘REMEMBER’. Apart from this, we at first are not able to gain
any more information about Prior at this stage. Prior’s muteness is gone in Regeneration when wakes up “shouting” we begin to gain more detail about his true voice which has a distinctly “northern accent”. In a conversation with Rivers we see prior’s resistance to talk about what he has gone through. “I don’t think talking helps. It just churns things up” he says. It is not that he does not want to be helped but just that he finds it hard to confront his emotions. When Prior does begin to slightly open up he adopts a different voice, a satirical one aimed at higher ranked soldiers “The pride of the British army…”. This helps to show Prior’s anger and sarcasm towards the army and he goes on to described how he was in a dugout in “no mans land” for forty-eight hours” and had to stay there while him and his soldiers were bombarded with “one shell after the other”. Prior’s voice now has been able to develop and give the reader a more rounded look on him as a character and start to identify his voice as an individual. The satirical voice also appears in confrontations with Rivers about his own stammer “lucky for you, I mean…if your stammer was the same as theirs – you might actually have to sit down and work out what it is you’ve spent fifty years trying not to say”. The confrontational voice towards Rivers a person in Prior’s eyes in seeming power can be compared with the satirical voices adopted in Sassoon’s poetry “The General”. For example, in the poem “The General” has a seemingly cheery outlook “Good morning, good morning” which makes him perceive to have no sympathy at all. He is seen to have smiled at soldiers even though he knows “most of ‘em dead” or that is what is awaiting them. The young boys, however, are inevitably going to die “by his plans of attack”. The satirical voice and epic voice Sassoon uses is very similar to the way Barker manipulates Prior’s own actions towards Rivers in some respects. The epic voice being Sassoon’s way of showing his own disgust and anger towards the war, which is evident here. However, his lyric, therapeutic voice comes out in the poem “Letter to Robert Graves” something he never wanted published. Where he is able to bear all and deal with some inner emotions he was experiencing. He uses his lyric voice to deal with issues concerning his injury “the bloody bullet missed its mark” the usage black humour to present it may have been better to kill him. He also covers a deeper underlining that Sassoon often portrays the love between him and his troops for example “I made them love me. Although they didn’t want to do it”. Something that in Regeneration is the overriding reason he decides to go back “for his troops”. The lyric voice that Sassoon adopts here is a more sombre one as he confronts issues dealing with his injury and the feelings towards his troops this vulnerability within Sassoon could possibly be the reason he did not want this piece published.

Through the relationship with Sarah Lumb we are able to gain a different person’s viewpoint on the war and the consequences of this on the people and society in general. We are also able to draw both contrasting and comparative aspects with Sassoon’s poetry through the character of Sarah Lumb. She is first introduced to us at a café in Edinburgh where her voice is at first very much representative of her character. She is a hard working northern woman paid just “fifty bob a week”. This character may also not only be a love interest for Prior but in another way a tool for Barker to portray something she has a lot of knowledge of and is a common theme in her other novels such as Union Street. Sarah Lumb brings a woman’s point of view to matters. Sarah’s interaction with Prior develops through the book and we dip often into her own mind on numerous occasions with the usage of free and indirect style. The first instance of this is when Sarah and “Madge” go to visit Madge’s injured husband in hospital. As Sarah walks around the hospital corridors, she notices “none of these men was badly wounded”. As she continues through the hospital, she finds herself lost and then enters an area where she becomes very “aware of a silence…..by her entrance”. The free and indirect style used here by Barker is to show Sarah’s own voice and reaction to “a row of figures in wheelchairs”. This helps give anaccount of every thing she is seeing and through voicing her opinions, we can gain how she feels about it all. These people hidden away with “trouserlegs sewn short: empty sleeves pinned to jackets” are also something Sassoon covers in two of his owns poems “Glory Of Woman” and to some extent in “Does it Matter”. Glory Of Women can almost seems based on Sarah Lumb’s own character when she uses the line “You make us shells” when referring to women during the war, which could link to Regeneration as Sarah’s actual job is that very thing. Another example of possibly how Barker constructs the voices of her own characters by using examples and researching into Sassoon’s poetry. The final line by Sassoon in his very single-minded satirical voice which presents the idea of the delusional invisionment that some women have of their men fighting in the war “knitting socks to send your son, His face being trodden deeper into the mud”. This portraying how many women at this time thought and how unaware they were of the actual brutality and atrocities that were taking place. Sassoon’s very blunt point of view is one Barker challenges through the voice of Sarah Lumb. Sarah becomes very angry about the way these soldiers are hidden away and concludes that “If the country demanded that price, then it should bloody be well prepared to look at the result”. Her own voice here is showing the anger mistreatment that she felt for these men. One that almost mirrors, Sassoon’s views in “Glory For Women” – and his own personal ones he feels about the treatment of injured soldiers and the war on a whole. This revelation in the book helps to bring in a female perspective on the war and lets a woman voice her opinion in a verymale-dominated novel. “Does It Matter” is another poem by Sassoon, which demonstrates his frustration with the war. This is shown by Sassoon thorough the use of his epic voice. This poem also can be closely compared with the character of Sarah Lumb in Regeneration and her attitude to the treatment of the patients in the hospital. This attitude is mirrored within the poem “Does It Matter – losing your legs?” Sassoon’s own voice narrating is clearly satirical and reflecting his own personal feelings once again. This satirical voice continues with the use of the line “splendid work for the blind” and “turning your face to the light” the best you can now hope for to gain any glimpse of colours and seeming light. Through Sassoon’s structure of this poem we are able to see how these line can be truly seen as patronising. He uses a ridiculously jolly rhyming scheme almost nursery rhyme esc to help enhance the satire in his voice and poke fun at a very serious situation. Using this method, he presents an ironic distance with himself using this jolly rhyming scheme to portray ideas of mutilation. This is where Sassoon’s satirical voice is connected slightly with his lyric voice and can be a way of helping him therapeutically deal with the trauma of war. This carries through into the final line of the poem “And no one will worry a bit” this an example of how the publics view of the war and all it’s goings on would be altered if they only knew the trouble soldier’s went through. This can be closely linked to Sassoon’s own personal views, which are voiced right from the beginning of Regeneration within his Declaration where he talks “the endured suffering of the troops”.

Other poems also within Sassoon’s work which help us see him in a different light is “To the Warmongers” with a one-stanza structure containing short lines to increase the speed it is to be read at. With a simple rhyme scheme, the pace of the poem is increased even further. The tone of the poem shows Sassoon’s lyric voice coming through presenting his seeming opinions on the war. The powerful short lines such as “I’m back form hell” and “Moan out there brutish pain” show Sassoon’s anger towards these people who want the continuation of the war. By looking at the time, it was written we can see this is just before he wrote his deceleration where he even states his protest for “those who are suffering”. The poem coming in my opinion from Sassoon’s own voice and producing a hard hitting poem of his own personal thoughts relating to the war. This run parallel to the portrayal of him in Regeneration as Pat Barker shows him upset in the bar at the golf club whilst looking at the old men sitting around discussing their views on the war. This most likely a tool used by Barker again using Sassoon’s own poetry to help construct a more true to life voice for his own character representation. Another poem where Sassoon challenges outsiders views and opinions in the war is in “Great Men”. Here we see his satirical voice used again to poke fun at other parts of the army “Talk our noble sacrifice and losses”. Sassoon here again aiming his views at people in power who seemingly want the war to continue but know nothing of the actual going s on within the war. This relating within Regeneration relating to not only Sassoon’s character but Priors own views which I earlier mentioned.

Within the poem “The Death Bed”, we begin to see the darker side of Sassoon’s poetry, which helps reveal an even deeper side to his lyric voice. The inevitable awaiting for the passing of a soldier and the personification of “death” having its own voice helps Sassoon communicate a deeper meaning. This idea of the character drifting in and out of consciousness “through crimson gloom to darkness” along with the actual character of death “who’d stepped toward him” really emphasizes the trauma that Sassoon experienced during the war and something he is trying to overcome at this point. Through these sorts of poems Rivers believes that Sassoon was able to overcome “war neurosis” so quickly. The coming to terms and dealing with death in this way helps Sassoon in his rehabilitation immensely. A similar poem in respects of dealing with aspects to do with the war itself is in “Counter Attack”. Sassoon once again here uses voices within his poem “Stand-to and man the fire-step!” to the poem a more realistic feel. He again here voices his attitude towards death “Down he sank and drowned, Bleeding to death” this another example of how through his poetry Sassoon is able to voice his inner feeling and release things that other people suffering “war neurosis” find hard to do.

Whilst looking through both pieces we can see clear differences in the voices used although some comparisons can also be made. Within Part Barkers Regeneration she is able to adopt many different voices through her clever use of free indirect style. Such characters as Billy Prior and Sarah Lumb are tools which Barker uses in order to sometimes disguise her own opinions and thoughts about the war. Barker through thorough research is able to capture Sassoon’s voice even more true to life with references to her own work. This is also evident in her fictionalised characters where pieces of Sassoon poetry are also evident. Sassoon on the other hand deals with his poetry as a tool to convey his true feelings on things and voice personal opinion form someone who has experienced it all. Through the structure and rhythm of his poems Sassoon is able to voice the way in which he would like his poems to be perceived when read by a novice. Along with his usage of the epic, lyric and satirical voices, Sassoon poetry can be seen as a release as well a way for him to promote his own political feelings about the “continuance” of the war and to place the people in charge in a position of satire.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Mr.D said...

Thanks Aimie and Kyle, I'll get this done by Tuesday at the latest

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah May - my complete 2nd draft. The conclusion is very weak as Emma has the copy of the A grade essay you gave us, so can i have some help with that please? Its not 3,231 words long.

Pat Barker’s Regeneration is a war novel set in 1917 at Craiglockhart hospital, where those who were directly involved in the war and suffered from neurasthenia were sent for pioneering psychological therapy and treatment. W.H.R Rivers, an army psychiatrist, and Seigfried Sassoon, a soldier sent to Craiglockhart for political as much as medical reasons, are the main characters. Sassoon was sent to Craiglockhart by the government because his ‘Soldier’s Declaration’ was a considerable embarrassment for them, and it was politically more useful to discredit him as writing as writing it while suffering from neurasthenia rather than allow him the publicity that a court-martial would give him.
Regeneration was written in the 1990’s, giving Barker an historical perspective on the events she portrays and this allows her to reflect on the times and the attitudes of her characters with some detachment, allowing her to present the reader with a variety of different viewpoints on the war and its consequences. Barker’s main purpose for writing her novel was to give a fresh approach to writing about the war as she takes her readers through the psychological and social consequences of the trenches, rather than describing the action on the battlefields themselves. The novel presents us with three dimensional, developed characters, fictional and fictionalised, and shows the effects of the war on a variety of people with a variety of civilian and military experiences. The historical Seigfried Sassoon was an educated, aristocratic trench officer in the war, compared to Barker who is a working class, female novelist with no war experience. Sassoon’s poetry makes a very strong point of protest and as he has first hand experience of the war, it is easier to do this. Much of his poetry was actually written whilst in trenches or in hospitals; in fact, some of his poems were written during his stay at Craiglockhart in 1917, the setting for Barker’s novel. Sassoon had a number of purposes for his work: he used it as a method to voice his protest, to create sympathy for the soldiers and, perhaps unintentionally, because it was therapeutic; as Rivers notes in Regeneration of the fictionalised Sassoon and his relatively speedy recovery, ‘writing the poems had been therapeutic’ (page 26). His poetry is short, dense, direct, and powerful and he makes his point very clearly.
In Regeneration, the governing narrative technique is varieties of free indirect style. Free indirect style is a technique of third person narration, which allows the narrator to drop into a character’s consciousness unannounced, for example in lines like, ‘the net curtain behind Rivers’ head billowed out in a glimmering arc’ (page 11). This tells us we are in Sassoon’s head because, as he is a poet, no other character would think with that amount of imagery and descriptive vocabulary. This line mirrors ‘blowing the curtain to a glimmering curve’ in Sassoon’s poem, ‘The Death Bed’, which shows Barker may have used this poem as an aspect of research for the novel. By using the third person narrative perspective, but populating it with a variety of her character’s own voices by using free indirect style, Barker achieves a great deal. Firstly, she reflects a number of her character’s personalities and opinions; secondly, she allows the reader to experience events of the narrative from a character’s perspective and finally allows her to have more than one main character and gives the reader an intimate knowledge of a number of characters. The critic Mikhail Bakhtin, writing on Dostoevsky, states that, ‘language is constitutively intersubjective (therefore social) and logically precedes subjectivity’, this shows that free indirect style is a narrative trick as the dialogue is actually between the author and the reader. We are being told the story, by the author, rather than being shown it by the characters, as it appears to be.
As Regeneration is a psychological and sociological novel, it looks at the consequences of the war on society and the people in it. Barker examines and analyses the psychological effects of the war by using free indirect style and constantly dropping into a character’s consciousness. By this we can see how the war has affected them, ‘he woke to a dugout smell of wet sandbags and stale farts’ (page 101). This is when Prior has been hypnotised to help him recall what has struck him dumb, Barker drops into his consciousness so the reader can see what he is recalling too. During Prior’s hypnosis, the main literary technique we are shown is free indirect style, this is because without it we would only learn about Prior’s experiences by him telling us about them which wouldn’t ‘work’ because Prior cannot recall his experiences. Rivers and the readers soon discover the extent to which Prior is affected by the war by one, in particular, incident that has happened, ‘what am I supposed to do with this gobstopper?’ (page 103). This shows his callousness towards the war, and how harsh it has made him, because this is his reply when a man he was talking to minutes before, was blown up and he picked up his eyeball. When Prior has woken and realises the incident, he is shocked that that is what had struck him dumb, saying ‘is that all?’, because the war had had such an affect on him psychologically, that particular incident had seemed very minor to him.
Timothy Marshall states that ‘the technical resources of narrative in prose (the varieties of indirect discourse in particular) do have an inherent capacity to represent languages other than the author’s’. This comment is more relevant to Barker’s work over Sassoon’s because Barker at least presents herself as a neutral narrator. Although we don’t get Barker’s voice directly in the novel it is easy to see she isn’t completely invisible by the way she presents her characters. For example, Barker believes that neurasthenia was an actual effect of the war, so her characters that also believe this are given more time and credibility in the novel. Prior’s view on this subject is the same as Barker’s, whereas Langdon’s aren’t. We can tell by the representation of these characters that Barker favours Prior. Some characters are given more speech than others and Barker tries to create sympathy for others, from the readers, ‘it was the closest Prior could come to asking for physical contact’ (page 104). This is after Prior’s hypnotism when he is upset and he ‘seized Rivers by the arms and began butting him in the chest, hard enough to hurt’ (page 104). This appears to be Prior’s way of wanting comfort because during the war it was unaccepted for men to express their emotions. Prior seems to be the character who Barker creates the most sympathy for, this could be because they are both from a working class background. As Barker uses free indirect style the readers can tell whose viewpoint we are sharing, by the way they think and what they think, even if these thoughts themselves aren’t introduced as such. ‘Pipes lined the wall, twisting with the turning of the stair, gurgling from time to time like lengths of human intestine’ (page 17), we know this is Rivers’ perspective because he is a doctor so he is likely to think that objects are body parts. Rivers’ and Sassoon’s vocabulary and the way they converse show their educated discourse, unlike prior Sarah and Ada, where what they say and how they say it shows their working class background. ‘Noting that grove between radius and ulna was even deeper than it had been a week ago’ (page 18), this shows Rivers’ education and also tells the reader we are in Rivers’ head, as no other character would think this way. In contrast, the line, ‘Sarah began to feel green and hairy’ (page 159), shows Sarah’s working class environment through Barker’s voice and language as she compares herself to a gooseberry, which is typical of her colloquial discourse. Barker also uses silence as a psychologically – revealing voice, particularly with Prior. Rivers believed that he talking cure’ as Sigmund Freud called it, was the only way to express repressed memories of battlefield experience, when the patient had, ‘usually been devoting considerable energy to the task of forgetting whatever traumatic events had precipitated his neurosis’ (page 26). However, it was socially unacceptable for a man to express their emotions, ‘they’d been trained to identify emotional repression as the essence of manliness’ (page 48), because if they did they would be labelled ‘sissies, weaklings, failures’ (page 48). This left the men bottling up their emotions and feelings and, in the case of Prior, struck dumb. When Prior is hypnotised he, Rivers and the readers finally learn what traumatic event had caused his muteness, ‘a numbness had spread all over the lower half of his face’ (page 103). We also know that it took a while for it to be cured, because he didn’t ever discuss his emotions.
In Sassoon’s poetry there is juxtaposition between the anger and the childish innocent style, that he portrays, for example in ‘Died of Wounds’ there is a simplistic nursery rhyme rhythm, contrasting with the horror of its content. ‘Does it Matter?’ is a satirical and sarcastic and is written in an epic voice and leans towards a lyric voice in certain places. The epic voice in this poem is Sassoon addressing the reader and himself, for the purpose of creating sympathy for soldiers and displaying his views on the war. The lyric voice in this poem is Sassoon addressing himself, thinking through his experiences and working out his fears, feelings and emotions.
‘As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light.’
This shows great detail of how a man in distress might behave, which is where we can see Sassoon’s lyric voice, so these two lines could be a reflection of his own experiences. This poem can be compared to pages 159-160 of Regeneration when Sarah Lumb is walking around a hospital and finds a hidden ward with soldiers who have occurred very bad injuries, such as mutilation. ‘Does it Matter?’ has an upbeat and jolly feel of how to deal with mutilation because it is satirical and ironic, even though it gets across the same points as the section of Regeneration.
‘And you need not show that you mind
When the others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.’
This gives the message that society ignores men who are mutilated, which is the same message given in the novel. ‘If the country demanded that price then it should bloody well be prepared to look at the result’ (page 160), this is Sarah’s opinion of the way these men should be treated by society. She is so shocked by what she had seen and by the way the men are put away in a hidden ward so that no one can see them.
‘Glory of Women’ can also be compared to the same extract from the novel as ‘Does it Matter?’. This poem has a monological voice because it is Sassoon’s voice and no one else’s voice appears. The general point of this poem is that Sassoon think women don’t want to see the effects of the war, that they only care when their men are still well or have small heroic wounds.
‘You love us when we’re heroes, home on leave,
Or wounded in a mentionable place.’
This can be compared to Madge in Regeneration who visits her boyfriend in a hospital, for physical injuries. ‘Madge was now sitting on the bed…to bask in the admiration of her resorted lover and to plan what they would do on his leave’ (page 158-159). This shows that Madge does still care about her lover, when he has a wound which shows his bravery but we are unsure whether she would still behave in the same way if he had a bigger injury or was mutated. Barker proves Sassoon wrong in his opinions that women don’t want to see the effects of the war with her character Sarah. When Sarah Lumb comes across the hidden war she believes society should be forced to look at the consequences of the war. ‘Glory of Women’ reveals Sassoon’s prejudices and assumes that women fall for propaganda. Women are excluded from the poem and they don’t get a voice. In Regeneration Sarah does have a voice and she is a lot more sensitive and thoughtful than the stereotyped woman that Sassoon satirises.
In ‘The Death-Bed’ Sassoon uses experience of the war as the voice of his character in the poem, whereas Barker has no experience of war so the voices of her characters are based on research.
‘He stirred, shifted his body; then the pain
Leapt like a prowling beast, and gripping and tore
His groping dreams with grinding claws and fangs.’
This gives the impression that Sassoon is writing from experience because his character’s opiate is wearing off and Sassoon describes how it is feeling in great detail, which gives the readers the impression that he is writing from his own experience of opiate wearing off. He does this by using an epic voice like he does in ‘Does it Matter?’. Aspects of this poem are written in free indirect style, like the novel. The character is drifting between consciousness and unconsciousness, so when he is drifting off to sleep, we hear about his dreams and what is going on in his head because of free indirect style. A point of comparison is the line: ‘Blowing the curtain to a glimmering curve’ which is very similar to the line in the novel: ‘The net curtain behind Rivers’ head billowed out in a glimmering arc’ (page 11). These lines are very similar and Barker may even have got the inspiration for this line from the line in Sassoon’s poem.
‘The General’, ‘The Rear-Guard’ and ‘To the Warmongers’ are a major point of comparison as they feature in the novel. In the novel Graves has given Sassoon an envelope, after Graves leaves Sassoon opens the envelope with Rivers and inside is a few sheets of paper. ‘On the top sheet, dated the 22nd April, Sassoon had written in pencil ‘I wrote these in hospital ten days after I was wounded’’ (page 24). Following this quote are the poems; ‘The Rear-Guard’, ‘The General’ and ‘To the Warmongers’. ‘The General’ was written in Denmark Hill Hospital in April 1917, ‘To the Warmongers’ was also written at Denmark Hill Hospital on the 23rd April 1917 and ‘The Rear-Guard’ was also written in the same place about ten days after Sassoon was wounded. About this poem, the historical Sassoon said ‘he thought I was in severe shock. But if so, could I have written such a strong poem?’. Barker has clearly written pages 24-25 from Sassoon’s real life experiences as the dates mentioned in the novel fit with when he wrote them in real life.
‘The General’ is written in a very childlike manner which contrasts with the horrendous content. The voice of the character, the general, is very cheery ‘’Good morning, good morning!’’ and implies he doesn’t understand and doesn’t care what the soldiers are going through. This poem is written through the voice of experience and sounds like it could be Sassoon’s voice.
‘Repression of War Experience’ is written in a free verse and appears to be Sassoon enacting his thoughts. The poem includes hyphens which show a stream of consciousness.
‘And scorch their wings with glory, liquid flame –
No, no, not that – it’s bad to think of the war’
Here the character is almost interrupting himself so he doesn’t think of the war.
‘Draw a deep breath; stop thinking; count fifteen,
And you’re as right as rain….’
Again, the voice in the poem appears to be stopping himself thinking.
‘The Rear-Guard’ was written about the Hindenburg Line and the soldiers who were fighting on it. It begins with a three line stanza, then a four line stanza, following with an eleven line stanza and ends with a seven line stanza. All have a simple rhyme structure, like most of Sassoon’s poems.
‘Groping along the tunnel, step by step,
He winked his prying torch with patching glare
From side to side, and sniffed the unwholesome air.’
This poem creates a huge amount of sympathy for Sassoon’s fellow soldiers, like many other of his poems and his declaration in Regeneration.
When Sassoon wrote the poem ‘Letter to Robert Graves’ he didn’t intend for it to be published. He wanted to write a lyric poem but he didn’t want to reveal his private side to the public, but Graves published it in his autobiography even though Sassoon objected. It was then withdrawn from Graves’ autobiography, but shortly after fifty copies were printed. So the voice in this poem is public verses private. This theme of public versus private can be seen in Regeneration too with Rivers. Rivers has a public persona as the steady, reliable doctor versus his private worries, ‘what do you do when the doctor breaks down?’ we also see Rivers’ private trauma. ‘’We-ell, it’s interesting that you were mute and that you’re one of the very few people in the hospital who doesn’t stammer.’
‘It’s even more interesting that you do’
Rivers was taken aback. ‘That’s different.’’ (Page 97).
There is also a contrast between Sassoon not wanting his ‘letter’ to be published as it reveals the ‘real him’ too much and Rivers revealing his own trauma in his stammer and his doubts. This is his only private poem, as all the rest were used to get his views of the war across. There is one significant private part of Regeneration which this poem can be compared with. This is page 38-39 when Burns leaves the hospital and lies naked among the trees with animal corpses, ‘he felt a great urge to lie down beside them, but his clothes separated him,’ (page 39). This is a very private past of the novel because none of the other characters know what happened and it is never talked about again. This part of the novel can also be compared to ‘Repression of War Experience’, as Barker may have got her idea for this section from this poem. In ‘Letter to Robert Graves’ Sassoon mentions Rivers and says that he cheers him up, helps him and saves him. ‘And I fished in that steady grey stream’, Sassoon makes a pun on Rivers’ name and a metaphor for him, which is complimentary to Rivers because Sassoon talks about him in a letter to one of his dearest friends. This poem mentions ‘Jolly Otterleen’ who is ‘Ottoline Morrell’ (page 23), and a leader of the pacifist movement as well as one of Sassoon’s friends. She encouraged Sassoon to write the declaration as it will help the war, although it won’t help him.
Overall, we can see many comparisons between Regeneration and Sassoon’s poetry, there are many parts of the poems that Barker may well have got her ideas from, such as, ‘Repression of War Experience’, ‘Does it Matter?’ and ‘Glory of Women’. The main comparison is with the voices they use, particularly indirect style as Sassoon uses it too in many of his poems, for example ‘The Death Bed’. Both the novel and the poetry are strong, influential and in some ways very similar, but many aspects are also very different.

9:06 AM  

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