A Comparison of the Techniques Employed in Portraying the Horror of War in Regeneration and Journey's End
"I chose the First World War because it's come to stand in for other
It's come to stand for the pain of all wars."
Pat Barker wrote "Regeneration" in the 1990's and R.C. Sherriff
"Journey's End" in 1927, the quote is from Barker and illustrates the
magnitude of the effect of the First World War, and expresses the
appeal of the subject. Both works use different techniques in their
portrayal of horror, and their effectiveness will be examined in turn.
The authors chose different formats with one being a novel the other a
play, thus giving them contrasting ways of conveying soldiers'
experiences of war.
In "Regeneration", Barker begins by exploring the character of Sassoon
and through opening her novel with the declaration immediately
demonstrates the adverse affect that war can have on rational young
men. Karin Westman states
"When Sassoon asks the public to make use of their imagination, he is
asking them to imagine the horrors of the war, to conceive monstrous
images, in order to comprehend its destructive force."
Barker utilises the factual document to validate the anti-war stance
of the novel. Sassoon has found that the horror of war has lead to the
disintegration of his men and has morale shattering qualities stating,
"I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no
longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe
to be evil and unjust." As a man, we later learn, who has won the
Military cross, we come to realise that he is certainly no coward, and
his reasons for his declaration are valid and just. His one-man-stand
illustrates how strongly he feels the war should be ended, and how he
is disgusted by its treatment of the men.
Both authors use techniques that introduce their main characters very
carefully. Barker does this with Sassoon's declaration and Rivers and
Bryce discussing him, in "Journey's End" the audience learns about
Stanhope before he appears on stage through Hardy and Osborne
discussing his drink problem and then the audience is given the
contrasting aspect to his character with Raleigh eulogising him.
Stanhope, a war hero, is driven to drink in a struggle to maintain the
courage he needs to lead his troops. Sherriff shows the severe effect
the war has had on Stanhope
"D'you ever get a sudden feeling that everything's going farther and
farther away- till you're the only one in the world- and then the
world begins to go away- until you're the only thing in- in the
universe- and you struggle to get back- and you can't?"
The use of a long sentence here is a method of conveying his confusion
and trauma. War has isolated Stanhope, he has come to realise his own
mortality, and alcohol is a comfort helping...