Pat Barker's Regeneration, Wilfred Owen's Poetry and Joseph Heller's Catch-22

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Explore the psychological and moral impact of war on soldiers and civilians in Pat Barker's Regeneration and Wilfred Owen's poetry. In the course of your writing show how your ideas have been illuminated by your response to Joseph Heller's Catch-22 and other readings of both core texts.

Pat Barker's Regeneration, Wilfred Owen's poetry and Joseph Heller's Catch-22 can all be categorised as subjective war texts as the main structural principle is not dominated by character's actions, but rather, this is subordinated by the moral and psychological processes upon those individuals. Here the authors have used war to present a larger theme or moral implication, by centring the literary texts on war's impact, whether that be a physical or a psychological manifestation of war's disturbing effects. 

Barker wanted primarily to focus her novel on the lasting effects of war, specifically WWI in which this novel is set. In order to do this she has used horror sparingly, allowing her to still show the suffering of the characters without detracting from the point of the novel. One of the few exceptions to this rule is Barkers use of vivid flashbacks to make the soldier's torment apparent. For example, Burns a patient at Craiglockhart War Hospital is left psychologically damaged, after being thrown 'head-first, on a corpse, whose gas-filled belly had ruptured on impact'. Barker intended that her novel be focused on the psychological and moral processes of war, in order to educate the public as to the extent of wars reach, in an attempt to prevent the continuation of war. The chronological ordering and interlinking protagonists results in a sense of fluidity, where the ease of reading and direct writing style allow Barker to more effective present her argument, although the novel allows us to draw our own conclusions.

Heller's novel set in WWII focuses on the damage inflicted by the war on the soldier's minds, both in driving them to madness and in blurring the line of moral duty and conscience. Heller never addresses the psychological impact formally: Instead he broaches the subject using satirical dialogue, whereby he shows the men to have been driven to madness and that it is just accepted in war time. But this callousness is mocking, as is made apparent by the underlying dark humour, which demands this novel be taken seriously. Heller intensifies the dark mood of the text with snapshots of horrific imagery and blunt observations. The circling non-linear order of the story appears haphazard; this reflects the illogical nature of war. Heller's structuring, as commented by Russ Allbery, 'requires that the reader pay close attention to maintain the order of events': Thereby ensuring that the reader fully engages in the text and is able to appreciate Heller's moral implications. Allbery also commented on Heller's last structural technique, as the ordering 'does lead to an effective juxtaposition at the climax of the book'.

Many people have commented that Owen uses horror in order to shock the reader into the realization of what war can do. A prime example of this is EXPOSURE, based on Owens own experiences it 'exposes' the reader to the realities of war. The poem centres on the physical conditions of the soldiers who are 'exposed' to the elements, which are so horrendous that the men long to go into battle as they see the bullets as 'less deadly than the air '. The weather is personified 'His frost', as the elements are now the enemy that are slowly killing them. It is also a reflection of the mental conditions of war, as Owen details what the men are subjected to we see their progression into despair and probable depression. Owen shows the environment is quick to impact the soldiers as from the first line they have all ready been worn down by the unrelenting winter, 'our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds'. The soldiers then become frustrated and anxious, 'but nothing happens', 'we cringe in holes'. Stanza's s five...
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