Prior Regeneration Essay

1356 words - 6 pages

Abby Hayes Teacher: Jolyon Pike Word count: 1,320
Analysing aspects of form, structure and language, explore the ways that Barker creates and uses the character (Prior) in the novel Regeneration
Billy Prior is the most prominent fictional character throughout the novel Regeneration (and the rest of the trilogy). He is used, alongside Rivers, by Barker at the beginning of the novel as an example of a doctor/patient relationship in the war situation at the time, involving the treatment of soldiers diagnosed with things such as war neurosis. He is used in contrast with Sassoon, as Sassoon and Rivers connect on an equal ...view middle of the document...

When Rivers himself meets Prior in this chapter, for the first time, he describes him as having a ‘supercilious’ expression on him, which would have implied to Rivers that Prior was of a superior class. This is the reason that hearing Prior’s voice for the first time, in chapter 6, changes Rivers’ perception of him so dramatically. Rivers then describes him as “A little, spitting, sharp-boned alley cat” making him appear defensive and even dangerous, maybe. The way that Rivers’ perception of Prior is altered by Prior’s speech shows how commonly people made links between class and speech during this time period, with Prior it was his Northern accent that made the link for Rivers. Prior’s defensiveness of his class and background is explained through his parents visit to Craiglockhart when Rivers meets his fairly dysfunctional parents. Prior’s father disagreed with his son joining the war effort and it soon becomes apparent that there is significant tension between Prior and his father. The way Priors father talks about his son’s suffering of shell shock, for example “He’d get a damn sight more sympathy from me if he had a bullet up his arse”, soon makes Rivers defensive of Prio. Rivers meeting Priors parents plays an important role in him getting to know and understand Prior’s past and upbringing and explains some of Priors defensive behavior. Prior is conscious of the ways in which lower classes are judged, and despises it. This becomes increasingly apparent throughout the novel and at one point he even says to Rivers that to be in his position he would have had to attend “Oxford or Cambridge” and is contradicted by Rivers when he replies that he didn’t attend either.
Prior’s character changes and grows considerably throughout the novel. At the beginning of the novel he is extremely against the situation which he is in during sessions with Rivers, Rivers being the doctor and him being the patient, which links to his feelings towards the treatment of him as someone of a lower class but also because throughout the novel it becomes clear that he likes to have control over situations. These feelings are shown from the beginning when, in their second meeting, Prior states “I don’t see why it has to be like this anyway” “All the questions from you and all the answers from me.”. But throughout the novel their relationship grows, this is shown at one point in chapter 9, when Prior decides to return to Rivers’ office in the evening to apologise for his behaviour earlier that day during one of their sessions. This shows how his feelings towards Rivers are slowly changing, and Rivers then offers to try hypnotism with Prior to regain his memory, this is something Prior had wanted to try for a while and Rivers’ offer to do this for Prior shows a...

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