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Book Report - Regeneration by Pat Barker

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Book Report: Regeneration by Pat Barker

I read, "Regeneration" by Pat Barker. Published in 1991, it takes place during the first World War, where it tells the point of view through an army psychologist.

Dr. Rivers is an army psychiatrist at Craiglockhart War Hospital, a mental institute. He reads Siegfried Sassoon's poems, which point at a negative view on the war, even though he was a part of it. He gets labeled as "shell shocked", which was a medical condition that impairs the thoughts of the soldier so he gets sent to Craiglockhart and that's where the two cross paths. Rivers believes that Sassoon isn't shell shocked and is uneasy of him being there. Sassoon explains the true horrors of the war and how he objects the war but Rivers explains to him that he has to send him back to France when he cleared for combat. Sassoon soon meets other patients throughout the novel with even worse cases of mental insanity.

Sassoon soon meets another poet, Wilford Owens who is a fan of his work and they soon become acquainted friends. He also crosses paths with Bill Prior, who was also admitted into the hospital because of his inability to speak and would only speak to Rivers on a notepad, but he soon regains it back. Prior starts to become independent and believes he can leave the hospital and goes out and meets a girl, Sarah Lumb, and they go out and play golf. When Prior returns he gets in trouble for his absents and gets confirmed to the hospital for two weeks as punishment. From then Rivers suggests hypnosis. The treatment causes Prior to remember the gruesome death of two soldiers in his platoon.

Throughout the novel he helps more patients that enter and exit the hospital, but Owens, Sassoon and Prior are the ones that stay the longest. All of them help Owens write one of his great poems, "Anthem for Doomed Youth." Prior also gets examined by the medical board because they suspect he is faking his illness and he would be sent back to the war. Sarah and Prior are reunited and they both admit their love for each other and depart from the hospital. Sassoon is released from the hospital and admitted into combat. Rivers gets transferred to a different hospital in London and starts working with another psychologist, Dr. Yealland and he shows him his form of getting soldiers out of shell shock by using electro-shock therapy which is a gruesome sight for Rivers and wonders how he could work with such a man. The novel then concludes with Rivers completing his notes and meditating to the thought of Sassoon and what happened over the past couple of months with him and the other patients.



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