Chapter 4 of Pat Barker’s “Regeneration” concentrates on the specific neurological impact of war on the individuals that appear in the novel, from hallucinogenic experiences, to a full mental episode. The Great War was a travesty on a scale which many civilians couldn’t begin to comprehend, though it was the horrific reality for thousands of young men. This reality is depicted very carefully by Barker in this chapter, as it starts from the perspective of a patient at Craiglockhart hospital; a former surgeon called Anderson. The horror of this daily life is too represented in an audial fashion by Wilfred Owen in his poem “Anthem for doomed youth”.
Anderson’s opening narrative reflects to the audience a typical symptom of war neurosis, dream abnormalities. During his explaining of the dream to Rivers, many significant images and inferences are raised, one of which was his being naked. Significantly this could be interpreted as a soldier feeling naked without his position in the army, though also, Anderson’s wife and her friends were wearing white. This provides a clear cut boundary between Anderson and the ladies, signifying the purity of civilians who haven’t been tainted by witnessing the massacre of The Great War, while Anderson has been stripped of his sanity, dignity and mental capability to believe such horrific acts of warfare weren’t possible. Others may interpret his nakedness as again setting him apart from the rest of society as many war veterans struggled to return to post war normality. This can be reinforced by the image of Anderson being tied down with corsets, “they fastened them round my arms and tied the laces”, an emasculating, un-natural and mentally restricting experience. Significant also within Anderson’s dream is the image of his father-in-law with a snake wound round a cane, bearing down on him. Snakes are the source of fear for many