The novel The Wars by Timothy Findley is one that expresses the emotional agony that the First World War had brought upon many. Many themes are evident throughout the novel that are able to enhance the significance of emotional pain and suffering felt by the characters. The use of fire imagery, in particular, is utilized as a symbol of emotional distress, and is used very dominantly among all of the images mentioned throughout the novel. This type of imagery is important towards developing the main theme and tone of the novel – the emotional pain that the war had inflicted upon humanity. In The Wars, the way in which fire had been represented had provided a mirror to Robert Ross’s emotional distress, the lack of effect of violence on Robert’s humanity, and the emotional pain felt by Mrs. Ross, Robert’s mother.
It is evident that the images of fire clearly represent and symbolize Robert’s own emotional distress, and the ways in which the war had affected him. “Robert looked to one side from under the peak of his cap, hoping that no one had seen him flinch from the steam or stepping back from the fire. He was wishing that they would leave. His shoulders hurt. His arm was sore. There were bruises on his back. He ached. He wanted all the others who had got off the train to depart the station before him.” (Findley, 73).
This simply conveys the physical and mental pain which Robert experiences. Furthermore, one can see that Robert is affected by the physical destructions caused by the war, to illustrate: “…and he stood and he stared as he passed the fires of his father’s factories, every furnace blasting red in the night…What were all these fires – and where did his father and his mother sleep beneath the pall of smoke reflecting orange and yellow flames?” (Findley, 126).
1. Identify two major historical turning points in the period under discussion. One of the Historical turning points after the civil war was the Freedman’s Bureau 1865-1872 the Bureau of refugee’s freedman this was created by congress in March 1865 to assist for one year in the transition from slavery to freedom in the south. The bureau was given the supervision and management of all abandoned ...
It is clear that Robert had felt immense distress as he witnessed the ruthlessness of the enemy to destroy any of its opposition. In particular, “The barns were a heap of burning rubble. So was the Signals Office. In the center of the yard, there was just a smoking hole.” (Findley, 212).
The smoking hole may be a symbol of the thousands of people that were killed during the war, and the fact that the enemy had been merciless enough to destroy anything that stood in its path, surely had an effect on Robert. Therefore, it is apparent that the manner in which fire is described in the novel, provides a mirror to the emotional agony that Robert is experiencing.
Secondly, it is clear that although Robert is a soldier fighting in the war, this role had not affected his true human nature, humanity, and sympathy for animals. “The air in front of him was filled with little fires but the horse was not dead.” (Findley, 68).
This quote shows the intense emotional distress that Robert had experienced when he had to slaughter the horse but did not want to. It is clear that although Robert fights in the war, and kills other men daily, he cannot bring himself to kill an animal. “Shall I light us a lantern, sir? Said Regis. ‘No,’ said Robert. ‘Not for a moment anyway.’” (Findley, 69).
This exchange over the lantern occurs just after Robert kills the horse, and he does not want to observe the deed that he has just committed. “The roof…went up in seconds like a tinder box. Within less than a minute of the fire being set, the rear portion of the roof fell into the barn…onto the backs of horses…Robert began shouting ‘I can’t! I can’t! I can’t!’ and by the time Mickle realised that this meant “I can’t open the doors,” it was too late….There were flames all around them and his (Robert’s) clothes were on fire….The dog was never found.” (Findley, 212).
Robert Cormier's the Chocolate War In my essay I will reflect on Robert Cormier's the Chocolate War. This book is focused on the problem of unrestricted power of authority that can rule over and swallow people. The main idea of the novel is shown in the destiny of the main character. Jerry Renault tried to fight the authority of the mafia in his school. In this way he dared to disturb the universe ...
This symbolises that Robert was more interested in life than death and would help someone/something if he could, but he had to learn this by serving in the war, living in a life with deadly risks and few second chances. Thus, one is easily able to see Robert’s true humanity amongst all of the violence and pain he is exposed to on a regular basis, and its lack of effect on his nature.
Moreover, it is apparent that Mrs. Ross’s emotional suffering can be seen through the fire imagery mentioned throughout the novel. “For a moment she stood there, holding her hands in tight against her body as if for some reason Robert might take these possessions away from her. The glass and the cigarette were perhaps some sort of tangible evidence she was alive.” (Findley, 22).
The reference to fire was in the form of the cigarette. This emotional distress shown by Robert’s mother is a result of her finding out that Rowena was dead, and that she did not know how to cope effectively with the situation because she turns to tobacco and alcohol for help. “The only decent person she knew was Davenport. Davenport gave away chocolate bars to soldiers leaning out of trains. When Mrs. Ross accompanied her and stood on the platform it gave her the feeling she was mitigating bullets.” (Findley, 53).
A bullet can be seen as igniting fire at some point (depending on the type of bullet), and it is evident that Mrs. Ross does not feel that the war is just because her child is risking his life for it. She cannot smile and hand out chocolate bars to young men who are off to their death, because her emotional suffering and worry prevent her from it. “Mister Ross went across the parquet floor and sat beside his wife. He put his arm around her shoulder and held her against his side. She was cold. ‘I’m blind’ said Mrs. Ross. ‘I’ve gone blind.’ There was not a trace of emotion left in her voice. But she fumbled with her fingers and found her husband’s hand.” (Findley, 205).
Robert Capa The son of middle class Jewish parents, he was born Endre Friedmann in Budapest in what was then Austro-Hungary. He grew up under the dictatorship of Regent Nicholas Horthy but accepted the ideas of his role models, artist Lajos Kass k. Kass k's anti-authoritarian, anti-fascist, pro-labor, and pacifist beliefs influenced Capa and the rest of his life. At age 18 Capa was arrested by the ...
That passage reveals that al of the stress and anguish she had experienced from losing another child had caused her to lose one of the senses vital to life, and if lost, makes living all the more difficult – sight – and this signifies that without Robert, it will be difficult for her to live.
In conclusion, one is able to see that the use of fire imagery is very effective throughout The Wars by Timothy Findley, as it is able to powerfully unify various parts of the novel and develop an apparent theme – emotional distress as a result of the war. The ways in which this unification takes place is evident through the emotional pain felt by Robert as a result of experiencing violence and physical struggle. It is also evident that Robert’s humanity, among all things, remains untouched by the horrific effects of the war. Lastly, Robert is not the only one who appears to be emotionally suffering—his mother, Mrs Ross also appears to be emotionally unstable. Thus, the fire imagery used throughout The Wars, provides a mirror to Robert’s emotional distress, his undying humanity, and the emotional agony that his mother experiences.