Critical Essay Sample on The Wars by Timothy Findley

Published: 2023-01-14
Critical Essay Sample on The Wars by Timothy Findley
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  World literature Historical literature Symbolism
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1407 words
12 min read


To maintain fluency, readability, understanding, and essays more interesting, various author decide to use several styles to achieve this. In "the wars," Timothy uses the theme of symbolism to capture the attention of his readers. This is also to help make the article of "the wars" more meaningful by making the readers keep on reflecting and relating the story symbols to the real objects in the world that make them easy to understand.

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Generally, the theme in the story is a direct representation of Robert Ross. Therefore, the readers can be able to think deeply and find other innocent boys like Robert in the world who are subjected to cruel wars. This paper aims at evaluating various instances of symbols used in the story and isolate the meanings out, this is made easy because, symbols usually are typically used to show the graphics and make the reading reflective, through connecting the whole story of Robert with the nature, the past experiences and probably the experiences he had while undertaking the war. Symbolism is the most prominent theme in the, and therefore, it would be necessary to view some of the instances that employed the use of this theme in the timothy's story whose main character is called Robert Ross.

The story begins where Robert Ross, who is a Canadian soldier, who seemingly withdrew from other soldiers after the death of this sister Rowena, is seen sitting while putting his hands together in between his legs, but with a pistol in his hands (Findley et al., 1995). In the nearby building, where Robert is, a flame breaks out and thus forces the moving train to stop. Robert decides to move into the train in the company of his dogs, to free out the horses in the train.

Symbolism in "The Wars"

The highest manifestation of the theme of symbolism in the story of the wars is the use of the imagery animals. Animals are abundantly used in the story of Timothy to typically elaborate on the behaviors and characters of Robert Ross. Also, image imagery helps to foreshadow all the situations that Robert experiences in his lifetime and use that to predict and give assurance of hope in the middle of the war.

Coyote is the first animal used in the context. The animal is seen to be extremely fast and goal oriented. Coyote, a type of a wild dog, has got one character that, before it starts its movement, it must set an aim, that may be, heading to a particular place or chasing given animal. In whichever the cases, coyote ensures that it reaches its destination without getting barred by any other thing along the way.

Coyote is thus a symbol that shows a particular character that Robert, as a soldier, should follow, to usually have a given target and must always stay focused on achieving the goal without any interferences. Robert states in one of the Findley's chapters of the book that "he wanted ...someone to teach him," thus coyotes were an excellent source of leaning unit for Robert who was motivated to follow the same line of character as that of the coyote.

Alongside Findley's story, horses are also used. The speed of horses is also used correctly to show how fast the soldier should be if he is to achieve his main aim of protecting everything around him. As the novel begins, Robert is in his home place with the rest of the family members after the sudden death of her sister Rowena (Lowry, 1984). He experiences a controversial conversation with her mum, concerning the killing of Rowena's rabbits and this is probably the last one on one conversation with his mum before beginning his journey to France in the company of other soldiers.

Robert is dissatisfied by the act of killing the rabbits, and eventually, he is seen trying to make her mother understand the logic that the animals should instead not be destroyed. This incidence is a symbolism of justice and good character of Robert that he manifests and extends even deep to the animals. Typically, the majority would only hesitate when they are asked to kill fellow humans. A very lovely elaboration is the man that was called by Mr Ross to come and kill the rabbit's teddy bulge. Even though Robert is trying to make the man understand that the action is not the right one and that he should change and stop the killing, teddy fails to understand and finally decides to kill the rabbits (Lowry, 1984). The character of Robert is unique, and this symbolizes how people should always give similar attention even to those little things and avoid unlawful killings.

Just two weeks before setting up the journey to France, Robert is called by other soldiers to kill the broken leg horse because he is the only soldier having a pistol. However, due to the fear of murder, Robert has got no desire to kill, but he is forced to shoot several times before executing the horse. This incidence proved Robert's fear of killing. If it were another soldier who advised him to kill, they would have only used a single or two shots to have the horse down, different from Robert's story which applies several shots unwilling to kill before he makes one final decision to kill later on.

In France, Robert meets new people in the dugout. Rodwell, one of the strangers that Robert meets, is tasked with the duty of caring for the animals which are injured. Birds, rabbits, and hedgehogs are among the examples of the animals that Rodwell is taking care of. On having the glance at this, Rodwell quickly remembers the story of Rowena and the killings of the rabbits (Urbaniak-Rybicka, 2017). He also reflects on the situation when he killed a horse simply because it was injured. Roberts regrets having executed the horse when there are other people like him whose task is precisely to maintain the lives of the wounded animals.

Also, the gas attack launched by Germany against the likes of Robert can symbolize the various challenges that young and innocent men pass through in the real world. As the leader of the soldiers, Robert suggests on multiple survival skills and techniques, but their escape from the hands of the German soldiers is facilitated with one sniper soldier who has all the capabilities to kill Robert's group but decides not to. They also experience the problem of the German fog are end up falling in the mad. Robert was almost drowning (Pirie, 1981, pp. 70-79). Due to misunderstanding, Robert chooses to shoot the soldier suspecting him to have wanted to kill them. Later on, he realizes that the soldier had no intention of killing them, and the sound of the flying bird starts haunting him because he is guilty and feels that he has made a malicious killing. One of the thematic symbols in this incidence is misunderstanding and the possible effects that it may lead to in our societies.


Generally, throughout the novel by Timothy, animal imagery is broadly used and serves two primary roles to its readers:

  1. The novel serves as a beacon for granting hope. Readers can quickly understand that taking part in killings is not the right thing to do unless it is in a situation of saving other people's lives. The story of the rabbit and horse killings is just a clear picture to elaborate on this.
  2. The use of animal imagery is also significant as it aims at the dehumanization of humans into animals at the end. Therefore, it is fitting to conclude that in a case where human and beast are considered to be one, then "nature will form both the moral and the visionary centre of the novel ("The Use of Animal Imagery in the Wars," 2016, Jun 28).


Findley, T., Feore, C., Adachi, M., & Brown, H. (1995). The piano man's daughter. Toronto: HarperCollins. Retrieved from

Lowry, C., (1984). The Wars. Cinema Canada. Retrieved from

Pirie, B. (1981). The Dragon in the Fog. Canadian Literature, 91, 70-79. Retrieved from

The Use of Animal Imagery in the Wars. (2016, Jun 28). Retrieved from

Urbaniak-Rybicka, E. (2017). 'A WAR OF WORLDS'-TIMOTHY FINDLEY'S THE WARS. TransCanadiana, (9). Retrieved from

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