Robert Ross, the protagonist of Timothy Findley’s novel The Wars undergoes a disturbing violation when his fellow soldiers rape him; this is a significant turning point for Robert’s character and a section of the book Findley uses to address many themes. Throughout the book we witness Robert maturing and experiencing many hardships that will help create the man he becomes. The most significant of these trials is the scene at the insane asylum because it is where Robert looses the last connection to his innocence and his faith in humanity’s virtuousness. Findley also uses this scene to address the topic of homophobia in that era, and the substantially detrimental effect the First World War had on the fighting men of Robert’s generation.
Findley employs creative diction in the beginning of section five, chapter five of the novel, in order to symbolize the fragmentation of Robert’s character. Robert pieces together what has just happened as he stands “in the center of the room” (175). Robert’s thoughts are exposed from the following lines; “He wanted a clean shirt” “He wanted his pistol” (175). The author’s short, choppy sentences are representations of Robert’s thought pattern. He is in a state of shock, and his character is splintering as he tries to comprehend the violation that has just transpired. Findley creates emphasis in Robert’s thoughts and actions by double spacing this part and starting each sentence with “he” followed by a verb: “He wanted”, “He looked”, “He pulled”. As a reader, this writing technique makes us feel as if we are able to see into Robert’s thoughts and be a part of the moment. This creates powerful imagery of Robert’s damaged state of mind and draws attention to this section, which makes the reader consider that it is a very important event that also makes connections to other issues and themes.
A notable observation of...