Literapedia Book Notes for

Regeneration by Pat Barker


  • Dr. Rivers (ch 1)— Psychiatrist at Craiglockhart War Hospital, Main Character
  • Siegfried Sassoon (ch 1) Soldier who is protesting the war who writes war-based poetry
  • Robert Graves (ch 1)— Sassoon's best friend
  • Ralph Anderson (ch 2)—Sass's golf buddy
  • Burns (ch 2)—hopeless case
  • Billy Prior (ch 5)--initially difficult patient who becomes an important character in the book, forcing Rivers to apply some of his analysis to himself
  • Mr. Prior (ch 6)--Seems to "have no feeling for his son- except contempt"
  • Mrs. Prior (ch 6)— Proud of her son. Explains different from father & maybe father jealous of son b/c easier life?
  • Mr. (Captain) Broadbent (ch 6)— Wants Rivers to put in word for him to get leave b/c mother is supposedly ill, constant and bizarre infringements of hospital rule
  • Wilfred Owen (ch 8)—writes poetry
  • Sarah Lumb (ch 8)—woman that Prior meets at a café who becomes his love interest
  • Lizzie (ch #)—Sarah's friend at the café, the older one
  • Madge (ch 8)—Sarah's friend at the café, the "blonde, pretty one"
  • Betty (ch 8)—Sarah's friend at the café, the "dark and thin" one
  • Ralph Sampson (ch 10)— Astronomer Royal of Scotland
  • Mr. Willard (ch 10)— Mistakenly insists he has damage to his spine, and can't walk. Eventually becomes mentally accustomed to the idea that he can walk.
  • Charles Rivers (ch 14)—Dr. Rivers’ brother
  • Bertha (ch 14)— Charles’s wife
  • Henry Head (ch 14)— Rivers' friend and fellow psychiatrist; experimented on his own arm to further nerve damage research
  • Ruth Head (ch 14)— Henry's wife
  • Ada Lumb (ch 17)---Sarah's mother
  • Dr. Yealland (ch 20)— A doctor at the National Hospital that frightens his patients and also uses a questionable electrical treatment on his patients
  • Colonel Balfour Graham (ch 23)— New CO of The Board
  • Callan (ch ?)--Dr. Yealland's patient and a decorated war hero
  • Henry Head (ch ?)--Rivers coworker. Together they worked on regeneration of nerves at Cambridge

Chapter Summaries

  1. Siegfried Sassoon writes a letter protesting the war and is sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital as a mental patient to be treated by Dr. Rivers rather than being court martialed.
  2. Sasson and Rivers talk for the first time--discuss hallucinations, Germans, and nightmares. Rivers tells Bryce he can't find anything wrong with Sassoon. Rivers admits that Burn's case has defeated him.
  3. Graves arrives and speaks to Rivers, admits he's lied to friend but 'has done what's best for him.' Rivers reads Sassoon's poetry.
  4. Rivers talks with Anderson about Anderson’s fear of going back into medicine, and of his dream of Rivers in a coroner’s apron. Sassoon and Rivers discuss Sassoon’s protest. Burns finds the tree of dead animals.
  5. Rivers meets a new patient, Prior, who is initially difficult and mute. Sassoon returns to the hospital, secretly happy to be safe, and away from the frontlines. Rivers records a nightmare he has about his research on wound regeneration before the war, realizing that the nightmare stems from Rivers' dislike of causing others pain.
  6. Day of Rivers. Rivers meets with Prior. Speaking comes and goes, loss of memory, doesn't like talking treatment. Prefers hypnosis. Rivers talks to Sassoon, discuss pacificism. (Edward Carpenter's The Intermediate Sex is discussed) Rivers then meets Prior's father and then mother. Meets with Mr. (Captain) Broadbent.
  7. After being awoken from a nightmare, Prior has a discussion with Rivers about the stupidity of those running the War and his desire for hypnosis. Rivers then meets with Sassoon and reads his case file, then expresses the belief that Sassoon really has nothing wrong with him.
  8. Rivers and Prior talk about how a battle feels and Prior says that he does not remember what happened. Sassoon signs books for Owen and they discuss poetry. Prior goes out and meets Sarah Lumb at a cafe and they go to a graveyard for some hanky-panky.
  9. Prior meets with Rivers and complains of his confinement to the hospital for returning late and not wearing his hospital badge into town. He has another meeting later that night, during which Rivers finally uses hypnosis. Prior relives his war experience, then discusses it with Rivers.
  10. Sarah is upset and disgusted that Prior stood her up. Willard is introduced and believes he is unable to walk because of spinal damage. His illness is all mental. Willard’s wife visits him. Sassoon and Rivers dine at the Conservative Club and discuss the war.
  11. Sassoon gives Owen a poem for the Hydra and says that Rivers "wants me to admit I won’t be able to bear” having been at Craiglockhart while others “got blown to smithereens. What's more, he's probably right." Owen gives Sassoon some poetry to read and agrees to publish one of his own poems anonymously.
  12. Prior and Sarah leave Edinburgh to spend the day at the ocean where a huge storm hits. The two escape into a thicket where they have "relations".
  13. Rivers attends Burns' Board meeting and has a conversation with Prior about his own future meeting with The Board. Rivers has a long day and goes on leave, meanwhile Owen and Sassoon talk about their poetry. Later Sassoon has a hallucination of a dead soldier named Orme.
  14. Rivers is visiting his brother Charles at the chicken farm. Sassoon works with Owen on an “Anthem for Doomed Youth.” Sarah and Prior meet by chance at a military hospital. While Rivers is visiting Ruth Head, Henry offers him a job in London working with the Royal Flying Corps.
  15. Dr. Rivers visits Burns for several days where they discuss things unrelated to Burns's condition. Burns suffers from a nightmare/sleepwalk while Rivers is visiting.
  16. Bryce tells Rivers that Rivers should take the job offer in London. Sassoon talks of imagined tapping in his room. He decides he is "going back" (to the war).
  17. Sarah and her mother meet for lunch, then Sarah goes to work. Sassoon has lunch with Graves and they argue--Sassoon's going back to France. Rivers makes his rounds the night before the Boards.
  18. Prior goes in front of the board where, against his wishes, he is given permanent home service. Sassoon skips his hearing to have tea.
  19. Prior sneaks into Sarah's room, and they declare their love for each other. Sassoon and Owen discuss Rivers' departure from the hospital; Owen decides to leave the hospital too, and they part.
  20. Rivers "cures" one of his patients'(Willard) spinal cord injury- respected and hated. Final meeting with Sassoon before his leave. Moves and works at RFC hospital. Meets deformed man in hallway. Goes to National Hospital, tours with Dr. Yealand. Prepares to watch Callan's treatment.
  21. Callan is brought into the electrical room and operated upon by Yealland, who delivers higher and higher voltage until Callan at first says sounds and then whole words, until his speech ability is restored. Rivers looks on in horror but says nothing.
  22. Rivers goes to bed feeling ill and has a nightmare about being in the electrical room and operating on a patient. He wakes up, heart pounding, and then contemplates the meaning of the dream.
  23. Rivers and Head discuss Sassoon's possible return to the battlefield. Rivers returns to Craiglockhard in time for The Boards. Anderson is discharged to return to duty in an administrative capacity, and Sassoon is interviewed and permitted to return for general service overseas. Rivers decides, but does not express to anyone else, that Sassoons's ultimate plan is returning to die in battle.

Student Contributors

Megan Donaher, Alison Walter, Alexandra Gecker, Suzanne Vaughan, Sarah Garrison, Bernice Chu, Sarah "Burcher", Katey Damian, Elizabeth Leisey, Erin Daniels, Tyler Froelich, Madison Rabb, Anna Mohan, Dahlia Mignouna