The Wars

The Wars

by

Timothy Findley

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Lady Juliet d’Orsey Character Analysis

The fourth child of the Marquis and Marchioness of St. Aubyn’s, who own St. Aubyn’s abbey in London. She is the sister of Barbara, Clive, Michael, and Temple d’Orsey. As with Miss Turner, the narration features several transcripts of interviews with Juliet in the novel’s contemporary time period, roughly sixty years after the events that take place during World War I. At twelve years old, Juliet is a bright, curious child who often eavesdrops on people and meticulously records her life in a diary. During the war, Robert Ross and Captain Taffler come to stay at St. Aubyn’s, which is converted into a convalescence hospital for soldiers. Juliet immediately falls in love with Robert and is jealous of her older sister, Barbara, who begins an affair with him. In the midst of this fixation on Robert, Juliet inadvertently walks in on Taffler trying to commit suicide and saves his life. Soon after this, she decides to pull a prank on Robert and Barbara by dressing up as Lady Sorrel (the ghost who supposedly haunts St. Aubyn’s) and sneaking into Robert’s bedroom at night. This joke backfires, however, when she is traumatized to find Robert and Barbara having violent sex. After Robert leaves St. Aubyn’s, Juliet remains in love with him. A few months later, Robert returns to St. Aubyn’s to heal and live out the rest of his life, having committed several war crimes and been badly burned and disfigured by a fire. Juliet rarely leaves his side until he dies five years later.

Lady Juliet d’Orsey Quotes in The Wars

The The Wars quotes below are all either spoken by Lady Juliet d’Orsey or refer to Lady Juliet d’Orsey. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Trauma and War Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Australia edition of The Wars published in 1995.
Part 2, Chapter 12 Quotes

You live when you live. No one else can ever live your life and no one else will ever know what you know. Then was then. Unique. And how does one explain it? You had a war. Every generation has a war—except this one. But that’s beside the point. The thing is not to make excuses for the way you behaved—not to take refuge in tragedy—but to clarify who you are through your response to when you lived. If you can’t do that, then you haven’t made your contribution to the future. Think of any great man or woman. How can you separate them from the years in which they lived? You can’t. Their greatness lies in their response to that moment.

Related Characters: Lady Juliet d’Orsey (speaker), Robert Ross, Harris
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

And what I hate these days is the people who weren’t there and they look back and say we became inured. Your heart froze over—yes. But to say we got used to it! God—that makes me so angry! No. Everything was sharp. Immediate. Men and women like Robert and Barbara—Harris and Taffler…you met and you saw so clearly and cut so sharply into one another’s lives. So there wasn’t any rubbish. You lived without the rubbish of intrigue and the long drawn-out propriety of romance and you simply touched the other person with your life.

Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4 Quotes

Robert I discovered was a very private man. His temper, you know, was terrible. Once when he thought he was alone and unobserved I saw him firing his gun in the woods at a young tree. It was a sight I’d rather not have seen. He destroyed it absolutely. Other times he would throw things down and break them on the ground…he had a great deal of violence inside and sometimes it emerged this way with a gesture and other times it showed in his expression when you found him sitting alone on the terrace or staring out of a window.

Related Characters: Lady Juliet d’Orsey (speaker), Robert Ross, Mrs. Ross
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

Someone once said to Clive: do you think we will ever be forgiven for what we’ve done? They meant their generation and the war and what the war had done to civilization. Clive said something I’ve never forgotten. He said: I doubt we’ll ever be forgiven. All I hope is—they’ll remember we were human beings.

Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Wars LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Wars PDF

Lady Juliet d’Orsey Character Timeline in The Wars

The timeline below shows where the character Lady Juliet d’Orsey appears in The Wars. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 11
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
In the present day, Barbara’s sister, Lady Juliet d’Orsey (now in her seventies), still remembers Robert vividly. She is the fourth of the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
In an interview from the present day with Lady Juliet d’Orsey, she recalls that her sister Barbara met Robert because of Harris and Jamie Villiers,... (full context)
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
Juliet reflects that Jamie and Clive were in love and remembers that Barbara stole Jamie away... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
Juliet says that every generation has a war, and that the great men and women of... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...stories about men lost at sea and whales singing to each other in the ocean. Juliet says that, after Harris succumbed to pneumonia and died, Robert tried and failed to get... (full context)
Part 4
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
The narration switches to another interview with Lady Juliet d’Orsey in the present day, in which she shares memories from her childhood diaries from... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
Twelve-year-old Juliet is a curious, precocious child whose only playmate is her five-year-old sister Temple. She takes... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Juliet’s sister Barbara, who is interested in another soldier at the abbey named Major Terry, is... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Juliet and Barbara’s brother Clive arrives at St. Aubyn’s with a large group of friends, all... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
One afternoon, Juliet picks daffodils to take to Captain Taffler. She sees Robert and Barbara come out of... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Barbara’s attraction to Robert quickly develops into an affair. Juliet is jealous of her sister because she, too, is in love with him. She notices... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Juliet reflects that everything she has learned has been a consequence of spying on people and... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
The next day, Juliet feels terribly guilty and cannot stop crying. Clive comes to sit with her, and she... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Finishing up her story, Juliet reflects that Clive did not think the Great War generation would ever be forgiven for... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 6
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
...and twenty-three out of sixty men. Kneeling down to collect his kit bag, Robert notices Juliet’s candle wedged into the ground and set alight by the bombs. He blows it out,... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 15
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...able to walk, see, or function normally again. Barbara d’Orsey only visits Robert once, but Juliet rarely leaves his side as he recovers from his burns, bringing him flowers every day... (full context)
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
...years old. There is a photograph taken a year before his death of Robert holding Juliet’s hand and smiling despite his disfigured face. Mr. Ross is the only member of Robert’s... (full context)