Historical fiction; war novel


An unknown, omniscient narrator

Point of view 

Third person omniscient; the narrator is not present or obtrusive in the text, yet is able to know the thoughts and feelings of each of the characters


Matter-of-fact, realistic, and resigned; the narrator does not gloss over details or make them any more palatable for the reader


Immediate past

Setting (time) 

1917, near the end of the World War I

Setting (place) 

Craiglockhart War Hospital, Scotland


Dr. Rivers


Madness; Rivers and his patients must fight against the war neuroses in an attempt to heal, but first they must determine what the madness is


Rivers witnesses Dr. Yealland's electro-shock therapy, reflects on his relationship with Sassoon, and is forced to come to terms with his own role as a doctor and the control he wields over his patients

Falling action 

The Board finalizes Sassoon's decision to return to active military duty in France; Sassoon leaves and Rivers reflects on how he has been changed by his patient


Pointing out the flooded cave on their walk foreshadows that the cave is where Rivers will find Burns in the storm; the dreary, empty hallway at the National Hospital foreshadows the frightening treatment Rivers later witnesses there