The Wars

The Wars


Timothy Findley

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Themes and Colors
Trauma and War Theme Icon
Blame, Revenge, and Justice Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Honor, Duty, and Heroism Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Wars, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Trauma and War

As a work of postmodern literature, The Wars is characteristically disorienting. Findley rapidly switches among different points of view and narrative structures, a stylistic choice that parallels the traumatic, fragmentary nature of World War I at the center of the storyline. The novel examines the war both from the European battlefront and the Canadian home front, showing the visceral pain of war inflicted on the bodies and minds of soldiers, as well as the residual…

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Blame, Revenge, and Justice

In The Wars, Robert Ross and his family experience profound tragedies, many of which cannot be logically blamed on any individual or singular force. Throughout the novel, Robert and his mother, Mrs. Ross, engage in parallel struggles of guilt over their personal grief as well as the horrors of World War I, and each try to create an artificial sense of justice. Mrs. Ross’s ongoing search for retribution causes self-destruction, while Robert’s causes…

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Loss of Innocence

The Wars takes place during World War I, when Western society’s idealism gradually turned to disillusionment. When Robert Ross, a young Canadian soldier, passes through his hometown on the way to military training, he does not recognize his once quiet, wholesome neighborhood’s transition into a hotbed of the industrial war effort. While the novel frequently alludes to these broad cultural and economic changes, Findley focuses primarily on Robert and his fellow soldiers’ personal loss…

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Honor, Duty, and Heroism

In The Wars, nineteen-year-old Robert Ross and the other young men of his generation are tasked with defending their countries in World War I. As a result, their sense of honor is not defined by their individual accomplishments in life, but by their capacity for obeying orders and achieving victory in the war. Rather than going to college, starting careers, or having families, they long for the imminent danger of the battlefield that they…

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