What are the key aspects of the theme of loss in Regeneration by Barker?

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Pat Barker's novel Regeneration focuses on the theme of loss as it explores the situations and struggles of men who have lost part of themselves in the experience of war. Let's look at this in more detail to get you started on your essay.

In this novel, loss is not so much about death as it is about the psychological strain of war that leads soldiers to lose part of themselves due to the trauma they have encountered. Much of the novel takes place in Craiglockhart War Hospital, a mental facility, where soldiers who have experienced such loss are sent to try to regenerate or regain themselves.

We see, for instance, Burns, who has lost the ability to eat after a horrendous experience. Burns even goes so far as to try to commit suicide. Anderson has lost the ability to practice medicine. Prior has lost his speech and his ability to connect with others. Another patient has lost the ability to walk. Sassoon has lost his reputation because of his outspoken letter against the war and his freedom by being relegated to the hospital. Owen loses his health and eventually his life.

These men are attended by Dr. Rivers, who has also experienced loss in his life. We hear, for instance, about his troubled relationship with his father and his guilt over his nerve experiments. Rivers must rediscover himself as he tries to regenerate the broken, lost soldiers who rely on him for stability and care.

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