Regeneration Analysis

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Book Review

An Analysis of Regeneration, by Pat Barker

The book begins with a letter of declaration written by Siegfriend Sassoon. Dated in July 1917, the letter affirms Sassoon’s view of the war being a waste of lives and efforts. In my opinion, this letter sets the tone for the novel, and has a vital part in the unveiling of Sassoon’s character as the story progresses. He states he is “a soldier” (p.3) and that while he believes in war for liberation or revolution, the war had spun out of control into something of vengeance and aggression, (Barker 3). This sets Sassoon apart from other soldiers since he is committed to a psychiatric institution for a reason not related to mental illness whatsoever. This moral resentment is what sets Sassoon apart from other soldiers, and leads me to find the main theme of the book to be about personal resentment of using violence without a legitimate cause.

Dr. Rivers is the psychiatrist who is assigned to help aid Sassoon back into a mental condition where he can return to fight in the war. Initially, Rivers is skeptical whether he can help Sassoon or not since he does not believe Sassoon is in a state of shock at all, but rather just opposed to fighting the war. Sassoon had hoped to receive a “court-martial” so that his words would be publicly aired. I think that he initially wanted this, so that other soldiers and civilians who agree with his thoughts would rise up and put an end to the war together. However, Sassoon’s friend Graves was the one who told the army Sassoon needed medical attention and should be enrolled in the institute “Craiglockhart” instead. Sassoon meets with Rivers for the first time and ends up leaving Rivers in high doubts about what he can do to help, and morally feels guilty about the thought of sending Sassoon back to the horrifying battle grounds. Throughout the book, he is perplexed on what exactly Sassoon’s declaration stems from. He knows for a fact it is not related to...
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