Wars By Timothy Findley

.. na was a guardian, but eventually he considered himself her guardian. “When she smiled, he thought she was his mother. Later, when he came to realize she couldn’t walk and never felt the chair, he became her guardian. It was for her he learned to run” (Findley, 7).

Rowena depends on Robert to care for her, as she is unable to do so herself. This provides Robert with a sense of being wanted and a feeling that what he does is beneficial to Rowena. He enjoys being there for her. “The thing was- no one since Rowena had made Robert feel wanted to be with them all the time” (Findley, 104). After, Rowena’s death, Robert was lost within himself.

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He no longer knew how to behave or what to feel anymore. It was as though he could no longer handle or deal with serious matters or even think clearly. Timothy Findley puts this forward as one of the main factors that initiates Robert to join the army; because he could never forgive himself for his sister’s death. Robert felt that is was his fault because he had not been there that day looking out for Rowena as he usually did. He felt this guilt eating him inside for the rest of his life from that day forward.

Robert reflects on specific moments they spent together through out The Wars. Robert? Yes, Rowena? Will you stay with me forever? Yes Rowena. Can the rabbit stay forever, too? Yes Rowena. This was forever. Now the rabbits had to be killed (Findley, 17) Robert is never able to forget this conversation because of the fact that he broke this promise by not being there when she fell. This changed Robert’s entire perspective on life and his assigned role.

He no longer appeared to have feelings anymore but no one knew how much remorse he felt inside. This could have been another reason for joining the war so that he could just go away and everyone would either forget about what he did and be proud of it in the end for being so brave. In a sense, a large part of Robert died that day along with his sister. While attending Rowena’s funeral, Robert saw a soldier standing there, he envied this man so much because after this day he could just walk away and leave all of this behind. This is what Robert wanted to do and it turned out to be the worst way to run away from all his problems. Rowena’s death constantly put stress on Robert, as we can see it hits him the hardest in the trenches or when he is in the battle field.

Everything reminded him of his sister. One example was when Robert looked under Rodwell’s bunk, “Robert looked. There was a whole row of cages. Rowena. Robert closed his eyes (Findley, 95). As one is able to identify Rowena was the first and only thing on his mind.

Even the color white would remind him of her because he could associate so many things since she was always dressed in white, her rabbits were white, and her coffin was white. All these memories haunted Robert more and more each day of his life. Findley suggest that in the latter part of The Wars that Robert is becoming mentally unstable. At times he can no longer function as a dedicated soldier or an average human being. It is quite ironic that after Rowena’s death, Robert wanted to join the army where death loomed on every horizon. If Rowena had still been alive Robert probably would not have ever enlisted in the army.

In the structure of Robert and Rowena’s relationship, the author is attempting to reveal that Robert, more than anyone else in the novel, is able to look past Rowena’s physical deformity and see her inner beauty. In Robert’s burning of Rowena’s portrait “not out of anger but as an act of charity” (Findley, 195), the author is revealing that Robert respects Rowena and does not want her to be subjected to the cruelty of war. It also suggests that the image of the person Robert was when he knew Rowena no longer fits into his lifestyle during the war. Findley uses Robert’s difficulty in dealing with his sister’s death to reveal his sensitivity and his feelings of guilt. This is also witnessed in Robert’s disappointment in the deaths of many animals as well as the German soldier in the novel. Robert Ross and his father, Tom Ross, carry out a healthy father-son relationship throughout the novel.

Robert is proud of his father and regards him as one of his role models in life. Tom is proud of his son and is loving towards him. Although their personalities do in some ways differ, there is still a strong male bond between Robert and his father. The personalities of both Robert and his father vary. Tom Ross is a strong and hard-nosed on the outside but only shows his sensitivity when needed and has control over his emotions, whereas Robert is strong but is more sensitive and can not control his emotions as well as his father. An example of Robert’s inability to control his emotions is after the death of Rowena.

Robert is asked to kill Rowena’s rabbits but cannot because of how much they meant to Rowena and him, so Tom hires Teddy Budge to do it. Robert ends up attacking Teddy and gets severely beaten. One example of Tom’s sensitivity and control is after they were notified that Robert was missing in action. Mrs. Ross was in a sense of disarray and Tom was able to comfort her, “Mr. Ross held her and rocked her from side to side.

The house began to darken. They sat there, silently singing. Finally, she slept” (Findley, 205). Although Robert and his father do have some personal characteristic differences, there are many instances in the novel that show not only how proud they are of each other but also some similarities between the two of them. One example of Tom’s commitment to his son was when Robert wished to run around the block twenty-six times, no one fully supported him except his father.

Robert failed and fainted on the 25th lap but his father was there to support him. Tom came up every evening after work and sat in Robert’s darkened room and talked to him and told him stories. None of the stories had to do with running. These were tales of voyages and ships and how to ride a horse. This was the binding of the father to the son (Findley, 48).

This bonding helped Tom remember his days of youth and how he had attempted something similar “the word spread out around him like a gift” (Findley, 48). The best example that Findley shows of the bond between Robert and his father is at the train yard in Montreal. Upon leaving for boot camp Robert though that he would not see his father until he had finished his tour of duty. When Robert saw his father it revealed his pride and love for him, “the sight of his farther had lifted his spirits immeasurably. And the feel of his father’s hand on his arm had brought back into a world he’d thought he’d lost” (Findley, 50).

Before this reencounter with his father, Robert had the mind of a soldier and had forgotten the enjoyment of his home and his family. What Timothy Findley is trying to reveal in the novel is that a father-son relationship is not only an important factor in family but also in life. There are many instances in the novel where both Robert and his father feel that they have lost touch with each other, but they always regain their contact. In war, it is often the letters and love from family and friends that keeps the soldier going. By exploring Robert Ross’ relationships with his family member one is able to understand and interpret Robert’s actions and emotions.

Thus, when trying to find the peices of the puzzle that links Robert’s family together, one finds the growth of Roberts’ personality. Furthermore, Timothy Findley enables the reader to examine the influential aspects of Mrs. Ross, Rowena and Mr. Ross towards the self development of Robert’s identity.

Wars By Timothy Findley

Wars By Timothy Findley The Wars together much like a puzzle. When piecing together a puzzle it is crucial to first find the corner pieces. As when trying to understand the novel it is necessary to realize what the most important aspects are. Each separate corner holds together and is linked to another part. Therefore, to understand the pieces of the puzzle it is vital to analyze Roberts relationship with his mother, his sister and his father.

Furthermore, an attempt will be made to reveal the strengths and weaknesses in these relationships and the meanings Timothy Findley is trying to proclaim. To best understand Robert’s relationship with his mother Mrs. Ross, one must look at their relationship from the perspective of Mrs. Ross. It is her interpretations and ensuing reactions to the tragic events of the novel that reveal the most to the reader about Robert’s relationship with her. Mrs.

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Ross is portrayed as an adamant woman in the beginning of The Wars, yet as the story progresses, her firmness is broken by various tragedies. Mrs. Ross found it hard to be intimate with people therefore, she kept many things to herself. She felt that “Being loved was letting others feed from your resource-all you had in life was put in jeopardy” (Findley, 153). Mrs.

Ross had mourned for years over the sudden death of her brother and her father, now she had lost a daughter and was going to lose a son. It is also evident she kept a lot of things to herself. At Rowena’s funeral she stood apart from the rest of the family pretending she did not need any help. Mrs. Ross hid behind a large, black hat that day. Before Rowena’s death and Robert leaving for the war Mrs. Ross used to be out in the public, handing out chocolate bars to the soldiers going off to war.

However, when Robert left to join the army Mrs. Ross refused to have anything to do with it. Mrs. Ross was an adamant lady. She was adamant when it came to chocolate bars and she was adamant when it came to her decision about Robert having to kill Rowena’s rabbits.

After the death of Robert’s sister Rowena, the Ross family seems to be broken. Family members question whose fault it was that she fell and who should ultimately be held responsible. Mrs. Ross comes across as being envious of her son and daughter’s relationship because Robert and Rowena had a relationship where Robert was like a parent (guardian) to Rowena. Robert also was very protective of Rowena and always showed his concern for her, like Mrs. Ross did for all her children but more so towards Robert.

Consequently, Robert being the closest to Rowena becomes the reason Mrs. Ross decides he will to be the one who would take the responsibility of killing the rabbits. Mrs. Ross’ decision to burden Robert with this inhuman act and furthermore, his failure to do so, leads to the most revealing monologue relevant to their relationship. ‘You think Rowena belonged to you. Well I’m here to tell you, Robert no on belongs to anyone.

We’re all cut off at birth with a knife and left at the mercy of strangers. You hear that? Strangers. I know what you want to do. I know you’re going to go away and be a soldier. Well- you can go to hell.

I’m not responsible. I’m just another stranger. Birth I can give you- but life I cannot. I can’t keep anyone alive. Not anymore’ (Findley, 23).

The pessimistic tone of Mrs. Ross’ monologue can be attributed to the fact that Rowena just died and that Robert has chosen to condemn himself to death, however, this also reveals much about her relationship with Robert. In addition, Robert’s decision to enlist in the war is not approved by Mrs. Ross. Her reaction is one of denial and a failure as a parent. Her words, “you can go to hell”, in reality, show her true love and care for Robert, yet in a vulgar way.

She cares so much for him that she can not bear the thought of him leaving, hence she directs her anger at him. Mrs. Ross missed her son when he went to war. She started taking long walks. She may have tried this to clear her mind.

When Robert started training he would go for long walks at night as well. Perhaps both tried this method to clear their minds of the problems they were facing. Although it may have not worked for Mrs. Ross. She started walking in storms perhaps hoping that the storm would distract her. Furthermore, she began to drink heavily and had to hide herself by wearing large hats with veils, and dark glasses.

The novel occasionally breaks form and lets the reader know how the war has affected Roberts’ family primarily his mother. Mrs. Ross drove herself to insanity and drunkenness with each day that Robert was gone. This is best illustrated whenever Findley focuses on the issue of Mrs. Ross and her “empty glass”.

Some examples are: Mrs. Ross stared at her empty glass. How long had it been empty? Hours? Minutes? Years? (Findley, 23). Mrs. Ross stood on the landing of the stairs.

The bottle fell from her hand. It was empty and it rolled to the bottom step. She gave a final agonizing cry (Findley, 204). Robert constantly wrote to his parents to tell them how things were going. Mrs.

Ross kept all these letters in a special place and was found re-reading them often. The most influential section regarding Mrs. Ross was when she and Mister Ross went to see Robert in Montreal before he departed overseas. Mister Ross had tracked his son down so his wife could have one last look at her son. Nevertheless, when Mrs.

Ross had another chance to say goodbye to her son she blew it. Instead of running out to hug her son and say goodbye she was found in the train saloon getting drunk. [Mrs. Ross] went into the salon and sat with her legs tucked beneath one of the pullman chairs and drank a third of a bottle of scotch. When Mister Ross came in and said it was time to go, Mrs. Ross stood up- and fell down. ‘I can’t,’ she said (Findley, 73).

All she could do was wave at her son through the window. Mrs. Ross began to lose her mind. She catalogued and memorized all of Robert’s letters. She would write him everyday but usually the letters were indecipherable.

Her husband started to wish she would return to them, but she just sat staring, waiting for Robert’s return. When the word came that Robert was missing in action Mrs. Ross lost it. It is easy to assume that she may have had a nervous breakdown. She had refused help for so long that when she finally asked for it she had gone blind and her voice contained no emotion.

Nonetheless, it is possible to assume Roberts’ last attempt to do something right was when he tried to save the horses at the end of the novel. He felt the horses would be killed if he did not try to save them from being sent to the front lines. Therefore, to consider that when Robert tried to save the horses it was exactly like how he had tried to save the rabbits. Timothy Findley could be trying to show the reader how the war not only ruined the lives of the men that fought in the war but how it also destroyed families as well. Mrs. Ross could not handle the loss of another loved one and Robert could not handle the horrific situations he had gone through.

One was never given Mrs. Ross’ first name, and in a sense this kept her at a distance with the reader. Perhaps this is to make the reader believe that her “craziness” could happen to anyone who regretted not showing their love when they had the chance instead of pushing it away. In developing the relationship between Robert and Rowena, Timothy Findley introduces Roberts’ humane and sensitive characteristics. When Robert was young, he mistook Rowena for his mother because he often saw her smiling face peering down onto his crib. To Robert, Rowe …