Analysis of Relationships in Regeneration
In this essay I am going to analyses the difficulty of relationships within the context of war. I will be looking at Billy Prior and Sarah Lump and exploring their relationship. I will also be looking at the difficulties of their relationship because of the war. Prior is a very complicated character. His difficult life from both home and during the war is the reason for his emotional conflict which causes him stress.
He believes his duty is to serve and cries when told he won’t be returning to war, yet he Is hesitant of admitting his fear that he was scared of being killed In the war. He will only talk to Rivers using a notepad and refuses to discuss his memories of the war as he claims to have lost all memory of why he broke down. Sarah Lump Is a working class woman who by nature of her gender has been shielded from the horrors of war. She moved away from home to work In a munitions factory In Scotland, which shows how women were beginning to replace men who had gone to war.
The contact she has with the war Is the loss of her boyfriend In the battle of Loss, through this detail Barker shows how everyone at the time could be touched by the war, further illustrating the change of the role of men and women. Prior and Sarah first met in a pub where Sarah Lump approached Prior. This shows a change in attitude as usually it would be the man approaching the woman. After only meeting Sarah for a short time he asked about any past or present relationships Sarah may have had.
Sarah then talks about her previous boyfriend who died in the war and ‘brooded for a while over her empty glass. ‘ She was changed by his death and this was the reason why she moved away from home. This could make their relationship difficult as she knows the feeling of heartbreak from losing a loved one in the war so wouldn’t want to deal with the pain gain through being in a relationship with a soldier. ‘Empty glass’ is used as it shows the emptiness and pain she felt inside from the death of her previous boyfriend.
The first complication in their relationship is when Prior was meant to go visit her but doesn’t turn up. When Prior eventually does see her, she’s angry with him as in her eyes he stood her up. You’ve got a nerve. ‘ This quotation shows her anger because she feels she may have been used by Prior simply for sex. She doesn’t understand the utilities that may occur for Prior at the hospital. However once he explained hat he wasn’t allowed out she forgives him and agrees to go on a second date. When they go out to the beach, it’s an escape from the war.
Prior pays attention to crowds of people and envies them and Sarah as they are free of the experience of the war. He feels they owe him something and that Sarah ‘should pay. ‘ He has affections for her yet Is bitter and Jealous of her Ignorance of the war which has changed him forever. They make love for the first time when they go out on their trip to the beach. Prior as a man gives Sarah the impression that he was not connected to her. Prior is unsure of his feelings and does not want Sarah to think that anything important happened at the beach.
Pat Barker doesn’t dwell on Sarah’s feelings but as Prior is the protagonist, the reader is aware of everything he thinks and feels, because of this we are shown giving her mixed messages about what his feelings are for her. Also the fact that he’s been restricted from talking to women, because of the war, effects their relationship as it makes him hostile, Jealous and uncomfortable. Sarah doesn’t understand the truth about war, this makes their relationship difficult s she doesn’t understand the impact that war has on men in general, so doesn’t understand why Prior acts in a certain way.
Even though he’s out of the war, he still has memories of it and friends who are out there fighting. He also feels guilty as he believes he should be fighting for his country with fellow soldiers. Prior may feel hopeless in a way as he’s never going to be able to mentally escape the war as everything brings back memories for him which is hard for Sarah as she will have to deal with this and with the fact that Prior doesn’t like to talk about his war memories. He is actually with her to take his mind away from the horrors he has witnessed in the war. ‘He needed her ignorance to hide in. This quotation illustrates Priors complicated feelings for Sarah. He loves her, but also despises her for being a female and not involved in the horrors of war. He also understands how much he needs her ‘ignorance’ to help him get through his own horrors. Sarah tells her Mum, Dad Lump about her relationship with Prior. She has a hardened attitude towards the relationship with Prior as she doesn’t believe that true love exists between any man or women. From her mother’s own difficult personal experience in relationships she’s brought her daughter up with a hard realism of love.
What do you think he wants you for? Dad implies that perhaps Prior doesn’t care and that he’s maybe Just using her for sex. This could be difficult for Sarah as she doesn’t have support from her mother. This could possibly be because Sarah’s father walked out on them as ‘it had never been clear whether her father had departed this life, the town or merely his marriage. ‘ So she might Just not want to see her daughter get hurt. Her Mothers captioned in her having sex so early on in the relationship and reminds her that contraception isn’t always reliable.
She also considers marriage as the sole end of female existence’ and would like to see her daughter marry a man with a brighter future which isn’t Prior. This is shown when Prior asks Sarah if her mum likes him. ‘Not as much as she would if you were going back. ‘ For Prior, being with Sarah is like an escape from the world outside and memories of war. He spends the night with her in the lodgings. ‘He was glad to have the night shut out, with its memories of fear and worried sentries whispering.
This quotation shows that Prior now feels safe, his memories can’t haunt him tonight as they’re forgotten about. He feels comfortable and happy with Sarah, they lie on her bed talking and finally Prior tells her he loves her and she replies that she loves him too. They have both been damaged by the war and at least find solace and care in each other, amidst the madness of the war. One aspect of ‘Regeneration’ is to give an insight into how the war affected men mentally and the effect this had on their relationships. I hope that I have shown from uncertainty of life from day to day within the war.