Melanie proving to be both a wake

Melanie Hakim

Mr. McDowell

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ENG 4U1-03

10 January 2018 

Animal Imagery in The Wars

HOOK SENTENCE! Timothy
Findley’s novel, The Wars makes use of animal symbolism as a vital
component to the narration of protagonist Robert Ross’ navigation through the
Great War. Despite their respective differences, rabbits, birds, horses and
coyotes play equal roles in Robert Ross’ journey through life, and the war.
These animals provide insight into Robert’s personal life, as well as the
rationale for his described struggles, and act as foreshadowing. Rabbits
preserve the memory of his sister, Rowena, as he struggles with guilt over her
death. The symbolism of birds is made evident during Robert’s time in combat,
proving to be both a wake up call, and a warning in times of need. The use of
horses comes into effect to symbolize Robert’s simpler and peaceful days before
he goes off to war. He had a horse of his own before going off into the wars
and spends some of his time taking care of horses during the wars. Coyotes
appear to Robert during moral conflicts, reminding him to kill only when it is
absolutely necessary. The animals act as representations of the defining
characteristics of Robert, acting as indicators of his character development.
The significance of the animal symbols is established as Robert is shown to
interact with the animals more than that of actual people.

Rabbits
represent his sister, Rowena, who ultimately gave Robert a purpose before
entering the war. Rabbits brought Robert and his sister together. They bonded
over these little creatures by taking care of them together before she passes
away. Rowena was as innocent as her rabbits. Robert refuses to kill her rabbit’s
following her death, as they were the only memories he had left of Rowena and
promised her that he would keep her and her rabbits alive forever.

‘Will you stay with me forever?’

‘Yes, Rowena.’

            ‘Can the rabbits stay forever too?’

‘Yes, Rowena’ (Findley 18).

The last thing Robert wanted was to
disappoint Rowena, whom he loved very much. It was his obligation to keep this
promise due to the guilt he suffers after Rowena’s death. His promise to Rowena
perpetrates Robert’s guilt as a result of preserving his memory of her. By
killing the rabbits, Robert would be able to feel less guilty about what
happened to Rowena as they would not be a constant reminder each time he looks
at them, but killing them would take away his only treasure left of her. It
would take away his purpose to protect her and watch over her. He was able to
keep her rabbits alive but not his own sister. Due to the quick command to kill
these rabbits and having his mother to hire one to kill them for Robert causes his
emotions to negatively increase allowing him to make the fast decision to join
the war the following day. If he was not asked to kill the innocent rabbits
then he would not have ran off to war. Although Mrs. Ross was very harsh with
her words with Robert, her only intention was to prepare her son for what he
will soon experience in the army as a solider.  She wants her son to learn how to face his
grief in order to get over his sister. Mrs. Ross wants Robert to be better than
her since she was not capable of learning how to face her grief of her dead
brother, Monty Miles, but keeping these rabbits alive is the only way he can
redeem himself of his guilt and somehow keeping apart of her alive. Rowena was
significant because she symbolizes the purpose of Robert’s life before the war.
Innocence and purity are signified through the use of these rabbits and allows
Robert to realize the importance and value of these animals and how they shape
him as a person.

Findley makes
use of the symbolism of birds as they are used as warning signs for Robert’s
safety throughout his journey. They also indicate a sign of hope that is soon
to come. Before Robert and his men encounter the German soldier, the bird sang
indicating that what is about to happen is a warning but also provides Robert
with courage and hope. “He lifted his gaze to the rim. Nothing. He angled his
head to the left. The bird sang. Robert froze. There was a German soldier with
a pair of binoculars staring right at him” (Findley 127-128). After coming
across the German soldier with a modified Mauser rifle, Robert and his men was
fortunate enough to encounter an innocent, young soldier, who let these man
escape from the terrors of the war. Robert is not sure why this occurred but he
was grateful for this random act of kindness until he pulls the trigger and
shoots the German soldier thinking that he was going to kill Robert and his
men. Although the German soldier had no intention of causing any harm, the bird
sang one long note after he was shot. This shows that the bird had signalled Robert
that there was hope for his men to survive this but also warned him of upcoming
crisis. The sound of this bird now haunts him every time he hears a bird sing
as it reminds him of killing an innocent human being, an act Robert hates to
perform.

Horses are
known to symbolize freedom due to their ability to run very fast. Robert always
has a strong relationship with animals, but horses have a special place in his
heart. Before going off into the war, he had a horse of his own named Meg. He
always envies horses for their ability to run off into the wilderness in order
to escape their pain and misery. Robert risks his own life when he attempts to
free the horses from the barn even though it went against Captain Leather’s
orders. He prioritizes these horses before his Captain’s life due to Robert
shooting him during the process of freeing the horses from the barn. ‘I’m going
to break ranks and save these animals’ (Findley 183). By attempting to free the
horses was like his own attempt to free himself from the guilt he suffers from.
Although his plan fails to save these innocent animals, he still risks his life
and his reputation in the military. The horses remind him of himself when they
are trapped in the barn as he is trapped in his own misery and struggles to
escape this feeling.

“The Wars is to understand the actions of Robert Ross, a young Canadian
officer, who when caught up in a German offensive during the Great War, tries
and fails to save one hundred and thirty horses from being killed. Robert’s
failure leaves him horribly burned, and in many ways is simply the inevitable
outcome of the pattern of futility which characterized his brief life” (Peter
Klovan,   ).

The horses dying enhance the failure
that constantly remains a pattern in Robert’s life caused by the amount of
emotions he experiences.  (EXPAND)

 

 

            Due
to Robert’s strong relationships with animals, he is able to come to terms with
why they act in certain ways through their actions. Coyotes are used to
represent the relationships between mankind and beasts. A coyote is known to
hunt and kill for one main reason and that is for its own survival. They kill
for a purpose and not when it is unnecessary. The coyote Robert encounters taught
him a very valuable lesson that Robert attempts to use throughout the Great
Wars but fails when encountering the German soldier. He is taught by the coyote
to kill only when necessary. The coyote also teaches him to keep running
towards his goal and to never stop and let useless obstacles distract you from
achieving that goal. “And when it came to the place where the gophers had been
sitting, neither did it pause to scuffle the burrows or even to sniff at them.
It just went right on trotting-forward towards its goal” (Findley 25).  This lesson can help Robert during the wars as a
reminder to always focus on what is next and to never turn back. Through the
coyotes actions with the gopher shows Robert that the coyote is
his hero, someone he aspires to be. He fails to use this advice when he
encounters the German soldier and shoots him unnecessarily. He then remembers
running with the coyote that night through the forest and watching the coyote
avoid killing the gophers and instead runs past it. A coyote is
considered as a dog and dogs are known to be a mans best friend. This is proven
by the relationship that Robert has developed with the coyote, an animal he can
depend on for thoughtful lessons and good morals.

 

 

Melanie Hakim

Mr. McDowell

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

ENG 4U1-03

10 January 2018 

Animal Imagery in The Wars

HOOK SENTENCE! Timothy
Findley’s novel, The Wars makes use of animal symbolism as a vital
component to the narration of protagonist Robert Ross’ navigation through the
Great War. Despite their respective differences, rabbits, birds, horses and
coyotes play equal roles in Robert Ross’ journey through life, and the war.
These animals provide insight into Robert’s personal life, as well as the
rationale for his described struggles, and act as foreshadowing. Rabbits
preserve the memory of his sister, Rowena, as he struggles with guilt over her
death. The symbolism of birds is made evident during Robert’s time in combat,
proving to be both a wake up call, and a warning in times of need. The use of
horses comes into effect to symbolize Robert’s simpler and peaceful days before
he goes off to war. He had a horse of his own before going off into the wars
and spends some of his time taking care of horses during the wars. Coyotes
appear to Robert during moral conflicts, reminding him to kill only when it is
absolutely necessary. The animals act as representations of the defining
characteristics of Robert, acting as indicators of his character development.
The significance of the animal symbols is established as Robert is shown to
interact with the animals more than that of actual people.

Rabbits
represent his sister, Rowena, who ultimately gave Robert a purpose before
entering the war. Rabbits brought Robert and his sister together. They bonded
over these little creatures by taking care of them together before she passes
away. Rowena was as innocent as her rabbits. Robert refuses to kill her rabbit’s
following her death, as they were the only memories he had left of Rowena and
promised her that he would keep her and her rabbits alive forever.

‘Will you stay with me forever?’

‘Yes, Rowena.’

            ‘Can the rabbits stay forever too?’

‘Yes, Rowena’ (Findley 18).

The last thing Robert wanted was to
disappoint Rowena, whom he loved very much. It was his obligation to keep this
promise due to the guilt he suffers after Rowena’s death. His promise to Rowena
perpetrates Robert’s guilt as a result of preserving his memory of her. By
killing the rabbits, Robert would be able to feel less guilty about what
happened to Rowena as they would not be a constant reminder each time he looks
at them, but killing them would take away his only treasure left of her. It
would take away his purpose to protect her and watch over her. He was able to
keep her rabbits alive but not his own sister. Due to the quick command to kill
these rabbits and having his mother to hire one to kill them for Robert causes his
emotions to negatively increase allowing him to make the fast decision to join
the war the following day. If he was not asked to kill the innocent rabbits
then he would not have ran off to war. Although Mrs. Ross was very harsh with
her words with Robert, her only intention was to prepare her son for what he
will soon experience in the army as a solider.  She wants her son to learn how to face his
grief in order to get over his sister. Mrs. Ross wants Robert to be better than
her since she was not capable of learning how to face her grief of her dead
brother, Monty Miles, but keeping these rabbits alive is the only way he can
redeem himself of his guilt and somehow keeping apart of her alive. Rowena was
significant because she symbolizes the purpose of Robert’s life before the war.
Innocence and purity are signified through the use of these rabbits and allows
Robert to realize the importance and value of these animals and how they shape
him as a person.

Findley makes
use of the symbolism of birds as they are used as warning signs for Robert’s
safety throughout his journey. They also indicate a sign of hope that is soon
to come. Before Robert and his men encounter the German soldier, the bird sang
indicating that what is about to happen is a warning but also provides Robert
with courage and hope. “He lifted his gaze to the rim. Nothing. He angled his
head to the left. The bird sang. Robert froze. There was a German soldier with
a pair of binoculars staring right at him” (Findley 127-128). After coming
across the German soldier with a modified Mauser rifle, Robert and his men was
fortunate enough to encounter an innocent, young soldier, who let these man
escape from the terrors of the war. Robert is not sure why this occurred but he
was grateful for this random act of kindness until he pulls the trigger and
shoots the German soldier thinking that he was going to kill Robert and his
men. Although the German soldier had no intention of causing any harm, the bird
sang one long note after he was shot. This shows that the bird had signalled Robert
that there was hope for his men to survive this but also warned him of upcoming
crisis. The sound of this bird now haunts him every time he hears a bird sing
as it reminds him of killing an innocent human being, an act Robert hates to
perform.

Horses are
known to symbolize freedom due to their ability to run very fast. Robert always
has a strong relationship with animals, but horses have a special place in his
heart. Before going off into the war, he had a horse of his own named Meg. He
always envies horses for their ability to run off into the wilderness in order
to escape their pain and misery. Robert risks his own life when he attempts to
free the horses from the barn even though it went against Captain Leather’s
orders. He prioritizes these horses before his Captain’s life due to Robert
shooting him during the process of freeing the horses from the barn. ‘I’m going
to break ranks and save these animals’ (Findley 183). By attempting to free the
horses was like his own attempt to free himself from the guilt he suffers from.
Although his plan fails to save these innocent animals, he still risks his life
and his reputation in the military. The horses remind him of himself when they
are trapped in the barn as he is trapped in his own misery and struggles to
escape this feeling.

“The Wars is to understand the actions of Robert Ross, a young Canadian
officer, who when caught up in a German offensive during the Great War, tries
and fails to save one hundred and thirty horses from being killed. Robert’s
failure leaves him horribly burned, and in many ways is simply the inevitable
outcome of the pattern of futility which characterized his brief life” (Peter
Klovan,   ).

The horses dying enhance the failure
that constantly remains a pattern in Robert’s life caused by the amount of
emotions he experiences.  (EXPAND)

 

 

            Due
to Robert’s strong relationships with animals, he is able to come to terms with
why they act in certain ways through their actions. Coyotes are used to
represent the relationships between mankind and beasts. A coyote is known to
hunt and kill for one main reason and that is for its own survival. They kill
for a purpose and not when it is unnecessary. The coyote Robert encounters taught
him a very valuable lesson that Robert attempts to use throughout the Great
Wars but fails when encountering the German soldier. He is taught by the coyote
to kill only when necessary. The coyote also teaches him to keep running
towards his goal and to never stop and let useless obstacles distract you from
achieving that goal. “And when it came to the place where the gophers had been
sitting, neither did it pause to scuffle the burrows or even to sniff at them.
It just went right on trotting-forward towards its goal” (Findley 25).  This lesson can help Robert during the wars as a
reminder to always focus on what is next and to never turn back. Through the
coyotes actions with the gopher shows Robert that the coyote is
his hero, someone he aspires to be. He fails to use this advice when he
encounters the German soldier and shoots him unnecessarily. He then remembers
running with the coyote that night through the forest and watching the coyote
avoid killing the gophers and instead runs past it. A coyote is
considered as a dog and dogs are known to be a mans best friend. This is proven
by the relationship that Robert has developed with the coyote, an animal he can
depend on for thoughtful lessons and good morals.

 

 

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