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Regeneration

Pat Barker

Chapters 3–4

Chapters 1–2

Chapters 3–4, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Chapter 3

Graves arrives at Craiglockhart. Sassoon warmly welcomes him and sends him to speak to Rivers. Graves tells Rivers some background about Sassoon and how he got Sassoon to agree to enter the war hospital.

While Graves was recovering from a war wound in a hospital on the Island of Wight, he received Sassoon's protest of the war in letter form. Graves decided that he needed to help his friend get out of the mess he was in. Graves thought that Sassoon had made a big mistake: "I could see at once it wouldn't do any good, nobody would follow his example. He'd just destroy himself for no reason." So Graves decided to help his friend, if not his cause. He convinced Sassoon that there was no way that the army would ever court-martial him (even though that possibility still remained), and encouraged him to go to Craiglockhart. Graves pointed out to the Board how advantageous it would be to simply say that Sassoon was mad. He told them what a brave platoon commander Sassoon was, how the men worshipped him, and how he loved the men. Graves pointed out all the courageous acts Sassoon committed as a soldier, and in the end, he convinced the Board to commit Sassoon to a mental hospital.

Although Graves admits that he lied to Sassoon, he feels justified in his actions. He believes that, as a soldier, a man should do his duty and be faithful to his "contract" even if he has changed his mind about the reasons or the justifications for the war. Graves feels that Sassoon did not go about changing peoples' minds in the right way. Furthermore, Graves feels that well- known intellectual pacifists like Bertrand Russell and Ottoline Morrell were simply using Sassoon for their own ends. Graves is happy to have Sassoon out of their influence.

After Graves leaves his office, Rivers reads three of Sassoon's poems (which are printed in this chapter). He reflects that Sassoon, in writing war poetry, acts in a way opposite to most patients. Whereas most war veterans try as hard as they can to forget their war experiences, Sassoon is intent on remembering and communicating his war memories. By attempting to further his cause, Sassoon may have aided his own mental health.

Chapter 4

Rivers meets with Anderson, a former surgeon in the war who is now a patient at Craiglockhart. Anderson tells Rivers about one of his dreams, in which his father-in-law waved a snake at him and he was tied down with corsets. He offers that this dream might mean that he considers the hospital an emasculating experience. Anderson's breakdown occurred when he was treating a French soldier who had escaped from the German lines; he treated the soldier's minor wounds but missed the major one, and he watched as the man bled to death on the table. Days later, Anderson broke down and collapsed on the floor in a pool of his own urine. Since then, he has been having horrible nightmares that keep him and his entire floor awake during the night. Anderson now has a disinclination for the practice of medicine, although he realizes that when he returns home, he must practice medicine to support his family.

Sassoon and Graves go swimming in the pool. Sassoon has a wound in his shoulder and Graves has a wound in his thigh. Sassoon reflects on how lucky he is when he thinks of the boy in the bed next to him in the military hospital who had a horrible "hole between the legs." With no privacy in the hospital, all the patients had to watch his dressings be changed every day.

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