Explore how Pat Barker represents love and comradeship in Regeneration. Pat Barker’s Regeneration is a historical anti-war novel that focuses on the soldiers’ troubled minds during World War due to factors such as shell shock. Barker introduces the feelings the soldiers had about the war and fighting in it. Regeneration focuses mainly on the male perspective; however it includes a small but important part on the female perspective. The themes of love and comradeship can be observed throughout the novel by studying Prior’s relationship with Sarah Lamb, Rivers relationship with his patients, marmalades on the front, and Caisson’s sexuality.
Billy prior and Sarah Lamb are in love, they are a classic example of love. In chapter 12 they go on an excursion on the beach together to escape the harsh reality of war. Contraception is mentioned when they are about to go for a swim. Sarah jokingly asks Prior if he is allowed to take his uniform off, being a soldier, and prior replies by “l always paddle with me boots on” a clear metaphor for a condom. After their sexual experience with each other, they become more attached.
By the end of the novel they do not only see each other for sex but also for emotional comfort. In chapter 17 Sarah’s mother, Dad, teaches her daughter that marriage is a mutual relationship for net gain and support, but excluding love. Sarah rephrases what her mother thinks “In her world, men loved women as the fox loved the hare. And women loved men as the tapeworm loves the gut’ an unromantic image of marriage. When Sarah tells her mother that she loves Billy, she rejects her mothers lesson on the impossibility of love between a man and a woman.
Prior, a psychiatrist at the Chronological hospital takes care of the shell-shocked and his job requires him to “cure” his patients to send them back to the front. By taking care of his patients he develops a feeling of compassion towards them and becomes a father-figure to them. In the early 20th century women’s’ rights were few, they had to depend on men for support but due to the consequences of the war, women worked in industries and were independent. They didn’t have to rely on men. The war made love between a woman and a man possible.