The Wars

The Wars

by

Timothy Findley

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The Wars: Part 5, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After his rapists have left him alone in the cell, Robert tears the room apart, wanting clean clothes and his pistol. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door—Willie Poole has come to deliver Robert his missing kit bag. He begs Poole, who is only passing through on leave, to stay for a moment. They have an awkward conversation and Poole tells him that Bonnycastle died but that the other men from their dugout are fine.
In lieu of being able to defend himself or avenge his rape, Robert takes out his anger and trauma on his surroundings. The fact that Robert begs Poole to stay, despite being his superior officer, shows how vulnerable he feels in the wake of his assault, as he yearns for the simple comfort of a familiar face.
Themes
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Robert thanks Poole for bringing his kit bag and wishes that he could embrace him. They say goodbye and Poole leaves. Looking through his bag, Robert finds his only photograph of Rowena and burns it in the middle of the cell floor.
Robert’s decision to burn Rowena’s photo implies that his rape has stripped him of his last shred of innocence. Embittered toward the cruelty and trauma he has experienced, Robert feels that it is unjust for Rowena’s pure, innocent spirit to exist in a world that is so morally depraved. This passage is similar to Rodwell’s suicide in Part 3—just as Rodwell would sooner end his life than lose his innocence, Robert would rather let go of his only tangible memory of Rowena than have it be perverted.
Themes
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
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