The Wars

The Wars


Timothy Findley

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The Wars: Part 5, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Robert takes a train from London to Southampton and boards a ship to the Canadian Base Depot in Le Havre, France. He finds that his kit bag containing his clothing, binoculars, and pistol has been mistakenly sent to a different station and feels naked and vulnerable without it.
Robert’s missing kit bag foreshadows potential danger for him down the line, as he is returning to war without his pistol. His discomfort shows how weapons become normalized in the midst of war, and being without his gun is akin to a civilian being without their wallet.
Trauma and War Theme Icon
The next day, Robert takes a long train ride to a town called Magdalene Wood, reflecting on childhood memories of Jackson’s Point during the journey. Magdalene Wood is still a ways from Robert’s final destination in Bailleul, but he decides to walk there in order to get a room at the hotel rather than wait for the wagon detail to bring his luggage. On the way there, Robert cannot believe that there is a war going on as he passes through the peaceful French countryside.
Robert’s regression into his childhood memories suggests that he longs for the innocent life he had before becoming a soldier. The peaceful countryside is such a contrast to the horrors he has experienced that he is unable to reconcile the two realities as existing simultaneously, implying that there is usually a sharp divide between the experiences of soldiers and civilians during war.
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon