Aborted Aspirations In Pat Barker's Regeneration

1886 words - 8 pages

Aborted Aspirations in Pat Barker's Regeneration

Pat Barker's riveting World War I novel Regeneration brilliantly exemplifies the effectiveness of fiction united with historical facts. While men aspired to gain glory from war and become heroes, Regeneration poignantly points out that not all of war was glorious. Rather, young soldiers found their aspirations prematurely aborted due to their bitter war experiences. The horrible mental and physical sicknesses, which plagued a number of soldiers, caused many men to withdraw from the battlefield. Feelings of guilt and shame haunted many soldiers as they found themselves removed from the heat of war. Men, however, were not the only individuals to experience such feelings during a time of historical upheaval. Women, too, found themselves at war at the dawn of a feminine revolution. One of the most contentious topics of the time was the practice of abortion, which comes to attention in chapter 17 on pages 202 and 203 of Barker's novel. Through Baker's ground-breaking novel, we learn how men and women alike discovered that in life, not all aspirations are realized; in fact, in times of conflict, women and men both face desperate situations, which have no definite solutions. Illustrated in Barker's novel by a young woman named Betty, and many broken soldiers, society's harsh judgments worsen the difficult circumstances already at hand.

As men engaged in war overseas, women gained many opportunities in their every day life. New employment opportunities became attainable to women. In women's health, many new medical practices were conventionalized as well. One of the most pivotal medical advancements of the time was the commercialization of birth control ("Marie Stopes"). However, not all women reaped the benefits of the contraceptive revolution, but rather suffered in shame and humiliation from opportunities posed too late. Due to their inability to attain society's new advances, many women sought out what seemed to be their only option in the event of an unwelcomed pregnancy: abortion.

The topic of abortion has created controversy, which dates back about as far in history as the time it was first put into practice. The first known forms of such induced miscarriages date back to the ancient primitive tribes, hundreds of years ago. The first forms of abortion were induced by using poisonous herbs, sharp sticks, or by applying sheer pressure on the abdomen until vaginal bleeding occurred ("Abortion: In Law, History & Religion"). In the British Empire, religion played an incredibly prominent role in society, and the danger and repugnance of abortion were regarded as a punishment for the indulgence in illegitimate sexual intercourse. It was not until July 19, 1938, that the abortion law received modification in Britain due to the Rex. V. Bourne case of 1938 ("Abortion: In Law, History & Religion"). In the history altering case, Dr. Alec Bourne aborted the baby of a 14-year-old girl who had been...

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