Regeneration, By Pat Barker Essay

1037 words - 4 pages

In Regeneration, by Pat Barker, one can discover how the protagonist as well as a psychiatrist of the novel, Rivers, uses the method, “talking cure” to treat the shell-shocked soldiers only so that they can return to the front. However, Rivers’ awareness of the treatment has an impact on him through the intimate relationship Rivers have with his typical patient, Sassoon. Through the novel, the awareness of the treatment affects Rivers’ belief on the war in which the perspective changes, is explained by Sassoon’s reasons in opposing to fight in the injustice war.
In the beginning of the novel, when Rivers is reading out Sassoon’s Declaration, he tells his colleague, Bryce, “…what our dear Director of Medical Services is going to say, when he finds out we’re sheltering “conchies” as well as cowards, shirkers, scrimshankers and degenerates?..” (4). Rivers is exemplifying Sassoon as a coward in the quote because Rivers doubts that Sassoon is shell-shocked and that Sassoon is only trying to escape from fighting in the front. However, when Rivers comes to a realization that Sassoon is not a “coward,” but instead, Sassoon almost gave up his life to bringing in the dead and the wounded back to the trenches, Rivers asks Sassoon whether it was a religious action to object in fighting by asking, “Would you describe yourself as a pacifist?” (13). Sassoon answers the question by saying that he is not opposing of the war with religious perspective but rather, by the brutality the war is impacting on the soldiers and the members of the home front and that he no longer hates the Germans, rather, a feeling of hatred for those at home who allow the war to proceed. When Sassoon asks Rivers if he thinks that he is mad, upon answering no, he says that, “…it’s my duty to…to try to change that? I can’t pretend to be neutral” (15). This quote explains the fact that it is Rivers’ job to treat Sassoon and prepare him to return, whether or not Sassoon is for, or against the war. During a conversation at dinner with Bryce, Rivers shows a typical bond towards Sassoon when asked a question whether he liked Sassoon: “Yes, very much. And I found him…much more impressive than I expected” (16). The quote shows that not only did Rivers like Sassoon because he was attentive than Rivers had expected, but also because Sassoon has a “moral” reason that brought him to Craiglockhart which makes him different from other patients.
Upon reading Sassoon’s poems about the war, Rivers thinks to himself that his method “talking cure” does not need to be implied on Sassoon because he is well doing it by himself- by writing war poems to think about the pain and the horrors he and others had experienced. In an appointment with Sassoon, Rivers realizes that Sassoon is not comfortable in being safe while his fellow soldiers are dying: “you don’t think you might find being safe while other people die rather difficult?” (36). When Sassoon answers Rivers in...

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