Development Mankind’s Inherent Violence: The Wars by Timothy Findley
The Wars, by Timothy Findley, is set on World War I, and it explores mankind's gruesome and violent acts towards each other. Naturally, violence is essential during wartime, so the participants, especially soldiers, can act violently which is not evident during peacetime in a civil society. However, in Findley’s novel, it states that soldiers are violent even when they are not currently in battle. Humanity’s violent nature is mainly displayed through the character named Robert Ross. Outside of battle, Ross committed acts such as murder. Additionally, he was also a victim of rape by his fellow soldiers. Therefore, the violence in The Wars represents the inherent evil and violence that mankind possesses.
Mankind’s instinctive desire for violence is shown by Ross when he kills the German soldier after the gas attack. Ross becomes aware that the German soldier is letting him and his team escape out of the crater unscathed. When Ross is at the crater’s edge, “what happened next was all so jumbled and fast that Robert was never to sort it out. He fell. He turned. He saw the German reaching over the lip of the crater. Something exploded. The German gave a startled cry and was suddenly dead, with his arms dangling down” (Findley 132). Ross instinctively assumes that the German soldier is reaching a gun to kill them since he is suspicious about what the German is going to do next. Even though the German soldier’s intent is to let them escape, he prioritizes his desire to live at the expense of another's life. After this event, he realizes that the German soldier is “only been reaching for his binoculars,” and he feels guilty (Findley 133). Since Ross is fighting a war and narrowly escapes a dangerous situation, it is natural to be distrustful and cautious. However, Ross' initial response to the imaginary threat during the incident is violence because he is acting on impulse, and he does not have a rational state of mind. Although this German soldier has let Ross and his group escape unscathed, his action has caused an unnecessary death which reveals the violent nature of mankind.
Additionally, Ross becomes a rape victim at the hands of his fellow soldiers, and this exposes the deprived nature of man during times of stress. After taking a shower, Ross notices an insidious presence in his cell. He is forced to lie on his back and be held by an unknown person who was lying below him (Findley 176). Another individual has forcibly open his legs, and he fears that they are going to break them (Findley 176). Ross begins to feel more violated as mouths sucked on his genitals and his body being probed and assaulted (Findley 176)....