The that a soldier must face during war.

The Wars provides a meaningful story that causes the readers to reflect on the similar symbols in their lives. There are many war-themed novels, however, few are as captivating and capable of showing the destructiveness of war as well as Timothy Findley’s novel. Findley makes his novel effective by using various symbols that provide a graphic reading experience, some of which emphasize Robert’s connection with nature, his past, and his experiences during the war. One of these is animal symbolism, which is extensively used throughout the novel. Findley uses animal imagery to reveal certain aspects of each character. The author also approaches the four elements of earth, water, fire, and air, for a deeper representation of the atrocities and misery that a soldier must face during war.  Findley allows us to explore the different elements as symbols, such as the perspectives of Devlin and Levitt on the stained glass, and Poole’s trumpet. It is through these symbols that we are able to address the issues of ethics, guilt, and the past, but mainly the destructiveness that it leaves behind.The animal symbolism in the novel is used to develop characterization and theme. Several characters share this close bond with the animals, that serve to emphasize the different qualities of each character’s personality. The main character, Robert Ross, has a deep connection with animals, this is reflected in his personality and the situations that he faces. The author successfully uses symbolism to develop the idea that human nature is not that different from animal nature. For example, one of the horses breaks its leg and Robert is ordered to kill it. He knows that killing an animal is against his moral values, but his role in the army is more important to him. This is the first time he intentionally kills a living creature in the story. This is symbolic of his weakness. Robert forcing himself to kill the horse can easily be compared to how a soldier is forced to kill a soldier from the enemy band. Not everyone is born being able to kill, and all soldiers were eventually faced with the task of killing one another. Timothy Findley is constantly showing us how the four elements can be both, benevolent and harmful. The Earth is a representation of the bloody battlefield that is polluted with the dead bodies of comrades and alike enemies. Although as well, the earth can represent the beauty of nature as we see on the following quotation. ” Here, there was at least the promise of green. The toad at once had begun to burrow into the welcome mud.” (Findley, 155). Water as in rain or snow, an element that Robert encounters at various times in the novel. It is a marker for change and transition. The most significant moment is after Rowena’s funeral, and in the rain and mud, Robert encounters on the battlefield. Air comes to symbolize both life and death at various times. The weapons that attacked the soldiers through their respiratory system with chlorine gas as in death. And, when the breath of Robert, Rowena, and the pony Meg can be seen in the photograph, it is a clear sign of life. “Firestorms raged along the front. Men were exploded where they stood – blown apart by the combustion” (Findley 137). Fire is a symbol of destruction, just the same as the artillery that would do on soldiers killing in high numbers and causing great destruction. At each of these points, Robert makes a move that marks a point of permanent change.”That St. Eloi himself, said Devlin. You see-he’s a patron saint of smiths and metalworkers and I find the whole piece rather attractive. Don’t you?-Very much so Levitt lied. He thought it was the ugliest piece of glass he’d ever seen.” (Findley). The different opinions of Devlin and Levitt on the glass are a symbolic representation of how war is glorified on the home front, although the feelings are different once you arrive at the battlefield. Not everything is what it seems is what we can learn from it. On the other hand, we have Poole who’s purpose on the front was of playing the trumpet. The trumpet is a symbol of hope for the soldiers at the front. They used to believe that the sound of the trumpet could motivate the soldiers to fight more effectively. Music is something that is usually played in times of peace, thus the sound of the trumpet can be a reminder of what a soldier is fighting for and of what piece is waiting for him back home.The Wars tell us the life of a soldier in World War 1. Timothy Findley cleverly leaves symbols throughout the novel, giving the reader the challenge of finding them and analyze their meaning and effectiveness in comparison to them. Once analyzed the reader has a new and more profound understanding of what soldiers had to endure during the horrors of World War 1. For thousands of years, there have been many furious battles fought among rival groups over different issues. The end results of each of the conflicts were always pretty much the same: the mass deaths and destruction of civilizations, and horrible physical and emotional impacts on the individuals left to live with the horrors they had faced. Findley shows us how in humanity our destructive and ignorant behavior corrupts the harmony within these elements.Works CitedGranatstein, J.L.”First World War.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2 July 2006.”Book Review/ The Wars by Timothy Findley; Out of the Shadows: Canada in the Second World War by W. A. B. Douglas and Brereton Greenhous/ Canadian Literature.” Web. 4 Jan. 2014.Hayne, D. and Kellett-Betsos, K. Canadian Literature in English. Britannica School. online, Ann.”The Wars”. EBSCOhost, Salem Press.Findley, Timothy. The Wars. Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Ltd., 1996.


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