Heritage and Identity in Pat Barker's Regeneration

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The presence of Jews in England has been a source of controversy for many reasons. On page 35 of Pat Barker's historical novel Regeneration, Siegfried Sassoon reveals the nature of his relationship with his father, who left home when he was five, and gives an account of his Jewish history. Though he hadn't been raised Jewish and apparently had no association with his Jewish relatives, Sassoon was subjected to the discrimination that was often seen in England before and during WWI. Through Sassoon's Jewish heritage and the other characters relation to the past, Barker exposes the need of mankind to identify with the past in order to come to terms with the present. There is much history concerning the Jewish people and their presence in…show more content…
On page 247, Major Huntley, when asked if he knew of a reason for keeping Sassoon in Craiglockhart, responded with "Spanish Jews . . . Father's side. Spanish Jews," indicating that his father being Jewish was reason enough to doubt Sassoon's integrity. However, he quickly reveals that Sassoon's "Mother was a Thorneycroft," dismissing his Jewish roots as giving him "Hybrid vigour" when combined with the English blood of his maternal ancestors. Major Huntley's view shows that even though he is quick to disregard Sassoon's unfavorable Jewish roots considering his more nationally appealing qualities, it may have been reason enough to consider Sassoon unfit for service. In the novel, Sassoon is one of many men and women who are struggling to resolve an inner conflict between their past and present selves, a conflict revealed by their war experience. Coming to terms with the present means facing the past for many of the characters, including Dr. Rivers, who begins to struggle with his own identity while working with the soldiers at Craiglockhart. Eventually the doubt and the strain of his position cause Rivers to have a breakdown and he is ordered to take three weeks leave (139 -140) which he spends at his brother's chicken farm (149 -156). While visiting his brother, Rivers recalls certain moments of his childhood and ponders his relationship

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