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The Wars: Animal Imagery

Uploaded by wytch on Nov 28, 2001

Sigmund Freud once argued that "our species has a volcanic potential to erupt in aggression . . . [and] that we harbour not only positive survival instincts but also a self-destructive 'death instinct', which we usually displace towards others in aggression" (Myers 666). Timothy Findley, born in 1930 in Toronto, Canada, explores our human predilection towards violence in his third novel, The Wars. It is human brutality that initiates the horrors of World War I, the war that takes place in this narrative. Findley dedicated this novel to the memory of his uncle, Thomas Irving Findley, who 'died at home of injuries inflicted in the First World War" (Cude 75) and may have propelled him to feel so strongly about "what people really do to one another" (Inside Memory 19). Findley feels a great fondness for animals, and this affection surfaces faithfully in many of his literary works. The Wars is a novel wrought with imagery, and the most often recurring pattern is that of animals. Throughout the novel, young Robert Ross' strong connection with animals is continually depicted in his encounters with the creatures. Findley uses Robert to reveal the many similarities between humans and animals. The only quality, which we humans do not appear to share with our animal counterparts, is our inexplicable predisposition to needless savagery.

In his video documentary, The Anatomy of a Writer, Findley describes his affinity for animals when he says that he has "always been in awe of . . . animals. [He has] never understood where [humankind] picked up the idea that [animals] are less than [people] are-that man is everything". In The Wars, Findley stresses his belief that humans are "no better and no worse-no larger and no smaller than any other creature that walks or crawls or flies or swims. [They are] merely different" (Roberts 56). Parallels are drawn between the protagonist, Robert Ross, and many of the animals that appear throughout the novel. Robert appears to have a strong kinship with his animal counterparts. After enlisting in the army, Robert takes a run out on the prairie, where he encounters a coyote. He instinctively begins to follow the creature, and it leads him to a valley where it stops to drink at a small pond. As it drinks, "the sound . . . [crosses] the distance between them and . . . [seems] to satisfy his own thirst" (The...

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Uploaded by:   wytch

Date:   11/28/2001

Category:   Literature

Length:   7 pages (1,477 words)

Views:   2526

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