May 11, 2013
The Role of Binary Linguistic Oppositions in the Context of War Most novels on war usually perceive only one side in the realm. An author like Timothy Findley can make a novel less about war but more about the physiological impact on ones mind because of war. The Wars is a very powerful and disturbing book with plenty of linguistic contexts. Timothy Findley’s Governor General's Award-winning novel of the First World War tells the story of Robert Ross, a young Canadian who enlists himself in the army after the death of his sister, Rowena. Robert has to cope with challenges of war, and make the transition into manhood and develop new beliefs in order to survive the war. Robert encounters numerous challenges along his journey that forces Robert to re-evaluate the truths that serve as the foundation of his life. This is what exemplifies deconstructive criticism; the moment one questions their truths, and realizes that there is no one central truth, instead, many linguistic oppositions of the same event that changes according to one’s perspective. With the title of Timothy Findley’s novel being The Wars, many false interpretations are suggested as it is just another book about World War I; however, The Wars, by Timothy Findley, digested through a lens of Deconstructive Criticism, one is able to surpass this barrier to find the ambiguities and contradictions of the internal battles illustrated in the novel: the psychological battle of sanity and insanity, the distinction of friend and enemy, and the illusion and reality of the war itself. There are several indications throughout the novel, which suggests the ambiguities of the psychological battle of sanity and insanity, that one encounter within themselves. The deconstruction of sanity and insanity starts to become apparent in the novel after the physical war comes into play; the physical aspect of war serve as fuel that starts internal conflicts in the minds of numerous soldiers in the World War I. This is evident through the actions of Levitt, that follow the collapse of the dugout due to the German attack; when he says, “‘I’m looking for somewhere to put down my book’”(Findley 111). Here, the actions of Levitt seem insane, when the situation is observed from the perspective of Rodwell and Robert. The fact that Levitt is more concerned about his books, rather than the well being of his fellow soldiers is an alarming concern of his sanity. Levitt is simply in an attempt to protect what gives his life meaning. Therefore, one cannot simply label a person as sane or insane, since, there are countless possibilities of truths on the same event relative to the viewer. Vincent B. Leitch, a former literature professor at the University of Florida, further explains the lens of deconstruction by saying, it “systematically demonstrates the impossibility of single or literal interpretations”(Leitch 24). Findley further demonstrates deconstruction of sanity and insanity through the suicide of Rodwell. Rodwell is being forced to watch the killing of a cat by his fellow soldiers; he “wandered into No Man’s Land and put a bullet through his ears”(Findley 135). Rodwell’s actions following the killing of an animal may be considered insane by many people, since, his affection towards animals is superior compared to humans. The war is an event where one experiences the cruelty, and killing of thousands of human everyday; yet, Rodwell is troubled by the killing of one animal. However, a completely different aspect of the story reveals, if one analyzes the situation from Rodwell’s point of view. At this point in the novel, it is evident that Rodwell has a strong connection with animals, similar to Robert. Therefore, one would consider animals to be Rodwell’s coping mechanism; his escape from the brutal reality of war. This justifies Rodwell’s actions, considering, the senseless destruction of the natural world, and the seemingly endless...
Cited: "Deconstruction." Benet 's Reader 's Encyclopedia (1996): 259. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
Epstein, Robert. "Literal Opposition: Deconstruction, History, And Lancaster." Texas Studies In Literature & Language44.1 (2002): 16. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
Findley, Timothy. The Wars. New York: Delacorte Press/S. Lawrence, 1977. Print.
Leitch, Vincent B. “The Book of Deconstructive Criticism.” Studies In The Literary Imagination 12.1 (1979):19. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 20 Mar. 2013
Mansfield, Nick. "Under the black light: Derrida, war, and human rights." Mosaic [Winnipeg] 40.2 (2007): 151+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document