Words of Wisdom:

"Asking why is a waste of breath" - SETH

The War Robert and Rowena

  • Date Submitted: 04/25/2011 12:06 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 66.4 
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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..

Findley uses rabbits to represent Rowena and Rodwell, both characters of pureness and compassion. Rowena is very much like her rabbits in that she is defenseless, innocent and dependent on others. When Rowena dies, her rabbits are killed for the simple reason that "they were hers" (17) and Robert is expected to kill them "because he loved her" (19). These justifications seem rather weak to Robert, who wants his sister to still be alive in some form. If the rabbits were killed, it "would imply that Rowena would truly be dead" and Robert cannot accept this ("Animals and Their Significance" 1). He promised Rowena that he would stay with her forever and that the rabbits would stay forever, too. He wants at least one of these promises to be kept. Unfortunately, a soldier is hired to kill the rabbits, and Robert fights him, yelling, "what are soldiers for?" (20). It is ironic that he later becomes a soldier himself and he learns to kill as well. So Rowena's rabbits are killed, "because a girl died, and her rabbits survived her" (20).

Robert Ross' relationship with his sister, Rowena:
In developing the relationship between Robert and Rowena, Timothy Findley introduces Robert's...


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