The novel The Wars by Timothy Findley is one that expresses the emotional agony that the First World War had brought upon many. Many themes are evident throughout the novel that are able to enhance the significance of emotional pain and suffering felt by the characters. The use of fire imagery, in particular, is utilized as a symbol of emotional distress, and is used very dominantly among all of the images mentioned throughout the novel. This type of imagery is important towards developing the main theme and tone of the novel – the emotional pain that the war had inflicted upon humanity. In The Wars, the way in which fire had been represented had provided a mirror to Robert Ross’s emotional distress, the lack of effect of violence on Robert’s humanity, and the emotional pain felt by Mrs. Ross, Robert’s mother.
It is evident that the images of fire clearly represent and symbolize Robert’s own emotional distress, and the ways in which the war had affected him. “Robert looked to one side from under the peak of his cap, hoping that no one had seen him flinch from the steam or stepping back from the fire. He was wishing that they would leave. His shoulders hurt. His arm was sore. There were bruises on his back. He ached. He wanted all the others who had got off the train to depart the station before him." (Findley, 73). This simply conveys the physical and mental pain which Robert experiences. Furthermore, one can see that Robert is affected by the physical destructions caused by the war, to illustrate: “…and he stood and he stared as he passed the fires of his father's factories, every furnace blasting red in the night...What were all these fires - and where did his father and his mother sleep beneath the pall of smoke reflecting orange and yellow flames?" (Findley, 126). It is clear that Robert had felt immense distress as he witnessed the ruthlessness of the enemy to destroy any of its opposition. In particular, “The barns were a heap of burning rubble. So was...
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