In Regeneration Pat Barker utilises the character of Burns as a way of presenting the extent to which the society have managed to damage the young soldiers. Burns is a fictional character used as an extreme case in Craiglockhart Hospital that presents the emotional destruction that all soldiers feel and further enhances the strain from society on Burns individually shown in the actions he uses to demonstrate a severe deterioration.
It is clear that the war is continuously playing on the mind of Burns in this extract by the militaristic imagery he uses when describing, what to other members of society, would be simply a normal walk around. On the bus journey first of all he describes the rattle of branches on the bus windows as sounding like ‘machine-gun fire’, which depicts the constant reminder he faces of the front line. The reaction of Burns trying not to be caught ‘crying out’ having heard these sounds suggests just how stressful being reminded of war in any way can be. Throughout this extract Burns also shows the discontent he feels and the struggle he faces to do the simplest of tasks such as walking up a hill. Barker refers to Burns’ struggle as ‘climbing the hill between trees’. The clever use of ‘climbing’ suggests the physical struggle he faces but also draws parallel with the feeling of climbing in and out of trenches on the western front that he formally faced, therefore hints at the idea that being reintegrated into British society was as much a “war” as it was when fighting on the western front. Again Pat Barker manages to show Burns facing the mirrored difficulties of war when he is ‘slipping and stumbling’ in ‘his mud-encumbered boots’ just like if he was in the harsh conditions of war. However we know that actually the ‘ploughed field’ he was walking through was nowhere near as difficult to travel through as in the western front which highlights how he has got far worse since returning which could possibly be due to the added pressure of...
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