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Regeneration

Pat Barker

Chapters 7–8

Chapters 5–6

Chapters 7–8, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Chapter 7

Sassoon wakes up during the night to the sound of screams and running footsteps. Screaming patients are very common at Craiglockhart, and he is thankful that his own roommate does not scream. Nevertheless, Sassoon fears Craiglockhart more than the front; its patients have stammers, stumbling walks, and a look of being "mental.'"

The next morning, Rivers visits Prior in his room and finds him reading one of the books Rivers published years ago. Prior is the one who was screaming the previous night. He apologizes to Rivers and admits that he wants to impress him. Rivers tells Prior that such a feeling is very common. They begin talking about how Prior "fit in" on the front. Prior laughs at the thought that there are no class distinctions on the front; a soldier is judged by what he wears, what he carries, and where he sleeps. They talk for a while about how stupid the military mind is; Prior tells a story about how a man was flogged just for smoking a cigarette. After Rivers gets frustrated with Prior for refusing to discuss his dreams, Prior once again requests hypnosis. Rivers insists he will only do hypnosis if all other methods fail.

Rivers and Sassoon reads the daily newspaper. Sassoon's letter has been read in the House of Commons, but after it is announced that he is in a mental hospital, many members of Parliament dismiss his letter as written by a crazy man. Sassoon is angered at the complacency of the British people; they do not even care if a boy who is not even old enough to enlist is killed. After talking a bit more with Rivers, Sassoon leaves.

Rivers begins writing Sassoon's medical history for the hospital records. He notes that Sassoon's view of the war differs from that of the ordinary pacifist in that "he would no longer object to the continuance of the War if he saw any reasonable prospect of a rapid decision." He does not include any mention of Sassoon's homosexuality in the report.

That evening, Rivers sits around the table with the other psychiatrists to discuss the cases. They ask him to speak about Sassoon. Richards tells them the facts, and Brock, another doctor, suggests that perhaps they should just leave Sassoon alone. Rivers disagrees; he feels it is his duty to convince Sassoon to go back to the front, since his grief and horror should not be allowed to dominate his actions.

Chapter 8

Rivers is in a session with Prior. Prior tells the doctor in detail what it is like to attack from a trench. He talks about climbing up and walking slowly, in broad daylight, right toward the machine guns. He is emotionally detached from the story he is telling, describing it as both "ridiculous" and "sexy." Prior assumes that he and Rivers are on different sides and one of them has to win.

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