The Wars Timothy Findley Essay Analysis
The way we depict our next move in life, whether big or small, is mostly a result of satisfaction or regret. Or any feeling in between. There are multiple examples of this idea presented in this novel. Timothy Findley suggests that things that give us both satisfaction and regret can influence an individual's actions. Timothy Findley's "The Wars" is a novel about a young man named Robert Ross who enlists in the Canadian army to escape the guilt he feels from his sister passing away. Throughout the story and his time in the war, Robert goes through both the physical and emotional strains of warfare and experiences many things he otherwise wouldn't have if he didn't enlist.
In part one of this novel, Robert experiences guilt and regret that he wasn't with his sister when he should have been. While his sister was playing with her rabbits in their barn, she fell off her wheelchair when Robert was supposed to be with her and could have saved her if he was. He knows this and regrets not being there for her. As a result of this, Rober's mother tells him to kill the rabbits, but he refuses. Then his father hires someone to kill them since Robert won't. As he tries to stop the man who will kill the rabbits, he gets beaten up. Then Robert decides to enlist in the army. As a way to escape this feeling of regret. His feelings brought him to this decision and supported the idea that satisfaction and regret can influence an individual.
As the novel progresses, since Robert joined the army, he's had to move with the troops wherever they go. When he got to France, Robert meets Rodwell and a few other men as well. What's exclusive about Rodwell is that he cares for injured animals. All small creatures, including bunnies. So when Robert saw the bunnies Rodwell was looking after, it painfully reminded him of Rowena. This brought him back to the day she passed and triggered how Robert felt in that moment and what his next actions will be. Since this didn't make him feel good and he had those guilty feelings again about Rowena, he didn't do things that made him happy or took a longer, more detailed way of going about things. Two days before Robert was scheduled to leave for France, his friend Harris died on land after becoming ill on the ship. Then in the infirmary, Robert meets Taffler, and after Harris passes, Robert asks Taffler to help him bury his friend but learns that Harris has already been cremated. This disappoints Robert and makes him have those feelings of regret that he didn't get to do anything for him earlier. These are more examples of how things that give off a satisfying emotion or a feeling of regret can alter an individual's actions.
During one of the worst parts of Robert's experience in the war, he's in the middle of trench warfare and has to take the lead while the brigade slowly loses its mind. Someone in particular who Robert notices is his fellow junior officer, Levitt. He also realizes that he, too, might be losing his mind. After Robert and the men are ordered to place guns in a crater made by the Germans' shelling attacks into the crater, he slips and cuts his knees on a broken machine gun. After the other men get in the crater, they're attacked with gas from the Germans. Following this attack, Robert takes control of the situation and takes memories from chemistry class and remembers how urine will cancel out the gas fumes and gets the men to rip their shirts and tells them they need to urinate on the fabric and to hold it up to their faces, so they aren't affected by the gas. After they do what he suggests, this gives Robert a satisfying feeling—making him feel confident about his decision and leading the men at this moment. He proceeds to tell the men to lay down and play dead until he makes sure the horizon is clear. After hours of lying down, it starts to snow, and Robert takes the initiative and props himself up to check the foreground. He spots a German soldier who signals that he is unarmed, but Robert thinks he sees the man reach for a gun, and he impulsively shoots the German soldier. He was mistaken and instantly regretted his actions after realizing that the soldier had a sniper rifle beside him the whole time and could have killed the men if he wanted to. Right after Robert shoots the German, he hears a bird sing and recognizes that this sound will haunt him for the rest of his life. This feeling of regret takes over and makes him feel like he is right back at square one. Where he feels guilty for all of his actions and can't get away from his pain. Which is yet another supportive example of the idea that feelings of satisfaction and regret maneuver an individual's actions and thoughts.
In the third part of this novel, Robert experiences feelings of regret and overall unhappiness, which is when he stays in the d'Orsay home, which was converted into a hospital for soldiers during the war. He stays there to recover from his injuries and, at the same time, meets Taffler. Who is another patient at home and who has also lost both of his arms in the war. While he seems to be going well for his circumstances, he ends up attempting suicide, as explained by Lady Juliet d'Orsay in a present day interview. She tells the story of when she found Taffler trying to re-open the stitches where his arms were amputated, so he could potentially bleed to death. At this point, Julia is heard screaming, and Robert responds to her by coming into the room and helps save Taffler. This is a bittersweet moment for Robert; he's helped save his new friend but also almost witnessed yet another death. Having another person in his life pass away would make him feel those same bad feelings he felt when his sister passed. And his actions would be affected by his emotions.
In the final part of Timothy Findley's novel, where we see how satisfactory and regretful feelings influence one's actions, Robert heads back to battle on a train but gets lost along the way. He loses his pack, and after weeks of searching, he ends up at a mental institution where bad things happen to him right from the beginning. Once he gets to his room and receives his pack, the first thing he does is burn the pictures of Rowena as an act of charity to let her be free of this world. Since Robert has seen and experienced the worst of what there is in the world. This act of setting her free gives Robert a safe and secure feeling that his sister won't have to stay in this sinful world and that she will be free and out of misery. Throughout this part of the novel, a negative feeling consumes Robert when he returns to battle and is placed to the front. As the Germans are firing shells, he realizes that the barn with horses in it will be destroyed, and the horses will die if he doesn't set them free. After Captain Leather refuses, Robert goes to Devlin to help him set the horses free. As Devlin runs to the gate, Captain Leather shoots Devlin, kills him, and tries to shoot Robert. Robert then shoots Captain Leather and kills him as well. A shell hits the barn, and the horses inside are burning alive. Robert feels regret here but doesn't let it affect his actions or what he's going to do. Since he didn't follow his Captain's orders, he knows he will be court-martialed, so he runs away. He finds a black horse and dog beside an abandoned train and notices over one hundred horses inside the train, which he releases before getting on the lone horse and riding away. Later, he is caught in a barn that is lit on fire and gets badly burned. He is saved but badly burned, and the horses die.
In conclusion, Timothy Findley suggests that feelings of satisfaction and regret affect us all through Robert's perspective and experiences. No matter how big or small, our emotions can affect our actions and possibly change how we act.