The Wars Robert
’s Struggle Essay, Research Paper
In the book The Wars, by Timothy Findley, asserting maleness is a big deal. Men aren’t supposed to do what is feminine. Through the many incidents in the novel, maleness is most emphasized on, reason being of the war in the novel, all these men have to act like “tough guys” because their sensitivity will be discriminated. There are three such incidents in the novel that shows the importance of maleness. The scene with the horse, the whorehouse incident, and the dugout scene. Robert was faced with situations that he had a very hard time in, he had no escape in these situations except to do what he had to do.
In chapter one, Robert was put in a place where he had to show his aggressiveness and loyalty. He was in charge of the horses in the hold. One of the horses was injured and had to be shot by him. This was a very hard time for Robert because he never killed an animal by himself, besides the rabbits. He had to stay tough and do what he had to do. The book said “Robert could barely move in his panic but he knew that he had to show his nerve and his ability as an officer someone in an adjutant’s office would write all of this down in a book `He showed decisiveness gained complete control of the situation he proved his effectiveness, `” this passage was when Robert was thinking that killing the horse was one way to show the higher officers the he is man enough to do anything. Robert probably wanted to save the horse and treat its wound and let it live. However, other soldiers would think lower of him, they’ll think he’s a sissy. This was one scene when Robert had to show his masculinity even though he didn’t want to.
Another episode was in the whorehouse. Every man was expected to have sex but Robert didn’t. The prostitute, Ella, was forcing Robert to have sex and the fact that the soldiers where in the whorehouse was impelling enough. Robert didn’t want to do this, but the hooker forced him. There was so much pressure on Robert: the thought of all the other soldiers having sex in the house and most of all Ella forcing him. She screamed “Jesus! If you don’t take the cake! Dontcha un’erstand-if you don’t do me I don’t get paid!” Ella was mad at Robert at this time because he wasn’t doing anything. In this scene Robert was forced to do something he didn’t want to do. He did not get to have sex, which he wanted but his maleness was still forced because men just have sex.
The dugout scene, this was different for Robert and the rest of the soldiers. This was the one time that all the soldiers in the dugout showed their softer, gentler, more sensitive side. Everybody was doing what they wouldn’t be doing normally. Maybe it was because of fear, everybody showed their emotions. This scene was like a group of young boys just ‘hanging around’ this is how Findley described it, “The dugouts, in fact, was rather grand as dugouts go.” Everybody there was sharing their interests, the books, the animals, the art, and the trumpet. This scene was a big change for all the soldiers, they started to show their emotions and maleness was not asserted as much anymore.
The Wars by Timothy Findley was a novel about maleness and how it is forced in the army and in the olden days where homosexuality was discriminated. Robert Ross has gone though a lot in the war and his forced masculinity got him through many tough times. However, his maleness was always forced so that other people won’t judge him, like in the scene of the horse. Then maleness wasn’t asserted anymore in the middle of the war, because of their fear. This novel is a novel of masculinity and how it doesn’t have to be abused or used all the time, at least that’s my interpretation. Asserting maleness is the most emphasized in the novel because of the war and maybe because of the homosexuality of the author.