Archive for March, 2011


Book Notes Check 1:

Although The Wars by Timothey Findley can be a very difficult novel to follow, with the proper updates, and facts about the book, it allows the reader to clearly understand what they are reading and what the author is trying to get across to the readers.

  • Setting: Though at the beginning of the story, we aren’t given a true description or any detail to the stories setting, we know that it takes place somewhere in Canada, but it is quickly apparent that as the story progresses the characters and setting of the plot moves quite frequently. Whether it be when they boarded the S.S. Massanabie, headed towards England with hundreds of other soldiers, while Robert Ross lead a convoy through France, in Lethbridge or Belgium, it’s clear that the novel changes location and setting very often throughout the different war-times and incidents that occur.
  • Characters: Throughout the book many minor characters are introduced that play small parts in the novel. Even though there are many minor characters, the novel also has several main important characters, that play huge important roles in the plot of the story.
  1. Robert Ross: a young 19 year old man, who joins the army while mourning the death of his older sister Rowena, while he feels guilty for her death.
  2. Rowena: Roberts older sister, who dies after falling out of her wheelchair, which she is stuck in due to an illness that she suffers from. Though she is an adult, and older than Robert, she acts extremely immature and young for her actual age.
  3. Mr. Thomas Ross: Robert and Rowena’s father. Minor Character.
  4. Mrs. Elizabeth Ross: Robert and Rowena’s mother.
  5. Captain Eugeen Taffler: a strong built war torn hero, that has returned to the army for a second tour of duty.
  6. Teddy Bulge: a man that is hired by Mr. Ross to kill all of the rabbits that belonged to Rowena after her death.
  • Conflicts: While there has been several different conflicts throughout the novel, two that seemed to be reoccurring where the points of man vs. nature, with the fight for survival against weather and hunger, as well as man vs. man, with the theme- survival of the fittest.
  • Active Reading: At the start of the novel it wasn’t clear to me where Lethbridge was, but after further research I found that it is a large city in Alberta with a population of just over 74 000 people. Lethbridge were large producers of coal, that peaked during WWI, giving the reasoning of why they entered this city in The Wars. So far I have enjoyed the novel, thanks to the amount of detail that the author chose to use while explaining details. Although I enjoy the detail that the author takes the reader into, it can be very difficult to understand at times, with the novel changing perspectives very often.
  • Theme: As the story has progressed the theme of guilt has been very often brought up. Whether it is through that fact that Robert feels bad and guilty about the death of his older sister Rowena as he mourns her death, it becomes apparent that Findley has chosen guilt to be a large part of the novel.

Critical Article Analysis

Very often throughout Timothy Findley’s writing he works around a main image that his story can be based upon, such as a tribe dancing around a fire. In The Wars, Findley chose to use horses as that primary image. He told the story from that specific image, stating how the horses ran screaming from under the artillery. This can be found in several other stories by Findley, including The Headhunter and The Piano Man’s Daughter, usually focusing on a different image each time.

  • Bemrose, John. “Rural Roots.” MacLean’s (1995): n. pag. Web. 4 Mar 2011.


Thought Findley has a vast collection of meaning to his work, one main topic that often stands out in his writing tends to be “War”, which is a short story written by Findley. While it seems as though War takes the general meaning of military and trench warfare, really the main conflict facing war, is the fact that at an early age Findley’s father left their family for the army. This can be seen through many of his novels including The Wars, which is based upon a teenage boy leaving his family for the army, while mourning the death of his sister that he feels guilty for. As part of Findley’s short story “War”, the main character Neil, escapes to his barn where he flings stones, sticks and rocks at his father. This may not seem very relevant, but too Findley’s fictional world rock-throwing and shooting are very similar.

As The Wars progresses we get to know Eugene Taffler very well. When he is first introduced, we see him alone in the Alberta Prairies firing rocks, bottles, and glasses. Findley uses this to explain Taffler, as if he uses that as a protection mechanism. This is done to show how Taffler uses his practice to his advantage. While in warfare, Taffler pictures war as another day in the prairies firing rocks at the bottles. This allows readers to see how Findley connects his fictional side with his life experiences.

  • Yorke, Lorraine. “Civilian Conflict: Systems of Warfare in Timothy Findley’s Early Fiction.” English Studies in Canada (1989): n. pag. Web. 4 Mar 2011.


Even though The Wars is filled with images of water, earth, and air, the main image that we see at both the beginning and the end of the story is fire. Whether is be the image of Robert burning on horseback or the fact of Robert nearly drowning while swimming on horseback, they both mesh together, creating a “fiery image”. This is done by the author to make it so that the reader must look as well as hear what these images are trying to say, from start to end.

  • Hulcoop, John. “Look! Listen! Mark my Words .” Paying Attention to Timothy Findleys Fiction (1981): n. pag. Web. 4 Mar 2011.

March 2011
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