Problems in a War Hospital in Barker’s novel, Regeneration Essay

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The story in Barker’s novel, Regeneration, centers on many soldiers with various problems in the hospital. One of these soldiers, named Prior, enters the hospital suffering from Mutism. He meets with Dr. Rivers, a psychiatrist, who encourages him to express his war memories so that he can heal; however, Prior proves to be a difficult patient for Dr. Rivers. When Prior regains his voice, he wanders to a pub in Edinburgh where he meets Sarah Lumb, a young munitions worker, and agree to see each other again. When Prior returns to the hospital, Rivers tries hypnosis on Prior to see if it can help him remember the events that led to his mental breakdown. From the hypnosis, Prior is able to remember perfectly how he had to shovel a fellow…show more content…
66-67). This discussion between Dr. Rivers and Prior is important because it shows the problem of class distinction in the story. Even though Prior is a second Lieutenant (a highly respected position in the warfront), his lower class status is the reason that his fellow officers snub him. In the story, soldiers are brought to the mental ward to get well in order to go immediately back to the war front. This way of thinking shows how the social structure views lower class soldiers. Soldiers with a higher class are regarded better than soldiers with a lower class; lower class soldiers are disregarded and viewed as disposable, a fact that shows why lower class soldiers transfer through the hospital quickly in order to get back on the war front. Because Prior discussed his personal experiences with Dr. Rivers, the problem of social class is able to become a major theme in Regeneration.

When he is brought out of hypnosis, Prior feels intensely angry. He feels responsible for the deaths of his two men. He recalls the story of an officer who commands that his troops fire on another regiment, only to find out that they are English, not German. He says he knows what that officer must have felt like. Rivers consoles Prior that there is no one kind of man who breaks down.

The issues of gender in Regeneration are discussed because of the discussions Sarah and the other munitions girls have together. When the girls are introduced to Prior, he finds out that they
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