If you took a sensitive caring person and set them in the midst of a chaotic area, what do you think would, happen? Would these person adapt to this area, and live like everyone else, or would they become a mental mess unable to cope with what is going on around
them? This was the theme of the novel The Wars by Timothy Findley, that is exactly what happened. Findley took a sensitive caring individual, Robert Ross and sent him to war. Ross became unable to cope with all of the events that were taking place around him, and eventually went insane. The life that Robert Ross had lived before was nothing compared to what he was experiencing during war.
When Robert Ross was a child he was the captain of everything, a popular and academic student. Friends and family loved him, and he was the ideal of any boy in the community. One would think that Robert would have no problem handling the world he
lived in, but that would be an inaccurate statement. The first sign of trouble, was Rowena s death. Robert and Rowena were very close as brother and sister, losing one another was unbearable for Robert, which started a spiral down to the end result, insanity. Little things like killing Rowena s rabbits could not be done, communicating
with others was difficult, Robert decided he had to get away. But for someone as sensitive as Robert Ross, war wasn t where he should have gone. The chaos and destruction of war, and everything he experienced, like murders and rape, was unbearable for Robert, and drove him to the end result of insanity, and his death.
In The Wars Timothy Findley uses an unusual time sequence to present his story. It is told from the perspective of an author trying to reconstruct the life of Robert Ross. The very first scene is of Robert Ross riding the horses down the tracks around 1918. The
story then picks up in 1915 but jumps back to when his sister dies. Throughout the story there is also an element of confusion as the people telling the story, and therefore the perspective also, are constantly changing. The time sequence in this novel varies because
it tends to jump from one person’s opinion of Robert’s situation to another. If this did not occur the novel would be much too depressing to read because of the constant view of war. The author switches from a war scene to a lighter subject in order to grasp the reader’s attention and keep the novel interesting. At first glance this story seem chaotic with the time sequence. I believe that using this time sequence, to create a chaotic atmosphere just like, the world Robert Ross is in. The time sequence is very carefully laid out and is very important to the story line. Often the story jumps to monologues by
miss Juliet D Orsey to explain what kind of a person Robert Ross was during critical points in the story. Right after the scene when Robert is with Harris in the hospital his compassion is reinforced with a transcript from Juliet D Orsey discussing the relationship
that Robert had with her sister.
Through out the story, Timothy Findley keeps bring up the use of fire. The symbolism of fire in the novel illustrates a feeling of pain and emotional distress, which Robert Ross experiences. The following quotes will help prove my views on the symbolism of fire.
“Robert looked to one side from under the peak of his cap, hoping that no oneh 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.” page 18
This quote expresses the pain both mentally and physically that Robert Ross experiences. It hurts Ross mentally that he is having to go to war, when the violence is not in his nature. It hurts him Physically because of the training that he will have to go through to
The air in front of him was filled with little fires but the horse was not dead.”
The use of animals in the story, The Wars are also become symbolic of characters, in the novel. For example. When Rowena, Robert s sister dies, the decision was made to have the rabbits killed and Robert was chosen to do it. His mother said it
was “…because he loved her.” (page 24). However, Robert does not want to have the rabbits killed and he does not want to do it. Robert sees the rabbits as being a part of Rowena, that would imply would truly be dead, so Robert tries to stop the murdering of
the rabbits. Animals like the Coyotes and snakes, symbolize the wildness of Robert. The Coyote is often seen as a dangerous wild animal, this was symbolic of Robert near the end of the story, who became a dangerous person to people around him. The horses, are
symbolic of the soldiers at war. Because the horses had to live a with stand the same conditions as humans during war. Robert strictly saw his act as an attempt to save the lives of these animals and possibly save himself among all the meaningless death and destruction, because to him the horses lives were just as important as the soldiers.
In the story, Robert Ross has developed, a trait which causes many problems for himself. Through out the story, Robert has to be taking care of people, around him. In the beginning it was Rowena, but she later died. It was then the rabbit, and the horses on the
boat to war. Then came his company of soldiers, and Taffler in the hospital. finally the horses he let free. It was the nurturing of these people and animals that kept Robert Ross occupied. The helping out gave Robert Ross the idea that his life is worth something. It
help him make sense of what went on in the chaotic world during the war. But in the end, helping all the time ended up as being the destruction of himself. Helping people and animals out was the only sane, and realist thing that Robert Ross knew during the war.
During World War 1 and 2 many soldier, came out of it unknown, to the rules of the society they use to live in. These were strong men, who could handle much more than the average human would be able to. If you were to take a sensitive, caring individual,
and send them to war what do you think would happen? Most likely, this human would not be able to cope with everything that happened during the war, and would go insane, or not survive. Robert Ross was a sensitive person to people around him, sending him to an area of, chaos, destruction and murder, was unbearable for him to handle, and
ultimately drove him to death. But the question that you wonder when you read this novel, was what Robert did really a crime. I do not believe it was, but rather a attempt to make a sensible decision that had positive effects once during the war.