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Pat Barker
was……(Her bio.. include about her grandpa experience..)… Though her early
novels were based on working-class women, she developed an interests in the
world wars and based her later novels largely on the themes of World War. The
influence of her step grandfather and stepfather who were the living museum of
the horrors of the war were undoubtedly the major influence in her newly
evolved interest towards war.

It has been a long debated question of authenticity and
intensity about the representation of catastrophic events by the next generation
writers that has not been a part of the event. How truthfully can the present
generation portray the pain of their ancestral history that they have not been
a part of? Can the dichotomy of history and memory be veritably represented?

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            In After Such Knowledge, Eva Hoffman Talks about the transferred
memory of ‘The Hinge Generation’.

“The
second generation is the hinge generation in which received, transferred knowledge
of events is being transmuted into history, or into myth. It is also the
generation in which we can think about certain questions arising from the Shoah
with a sense of living connection (xv)

 Hoffman talks about the knowledge and memories
of the survivors of Holocaust and the World War that followed as being
transferred to the next generation whom he calls as ‘the hinge generation’.  She claims that they are a living connection
between the past and the present. They draw a line between the eroding past and
its memories and the diffusion of its memories into the present as a
transgenerational victims of the catastrophe. The transgenerational victims are
the next generation of people who have had no firsthand experience of the
catastrophe but have witnessed the survivors of have read and heard of stories
of the catastrophe through any medium. They are
responsible to mark and protect the presence of past events through history or
legends.

            This generation is called as the ‘generation of
Postmemory’. When they involve into recreating the history, the authenticity is
often put into question because of their lack of firsthand experience of the
catastrophe.

           

“Postmemory’s
connection to the past is thus not actually mediated by recall but by
imaginative investment, projection, and creation. To grow up with such
overwhelming inherited memories, to be dominated by narratives that preceded
one’s birth or one’s consciousness, is to risk having one’s own stories and
experiences displaced, even evacuated, by those of a previous generation. It is
to be shaped, however indirectly, by traumatic events that still defy narrative
reconstruction and exceed comprehension. These events happened in the past, but
their effects continue into the present” (Hirsch 107)

For
many transgenerational war victims, family, photographs and chronicles has been
the major instrument of transmission of trauma. For Barker, chiefly her family
has been a tool in the transmission of transgenerational trauma. Later, her
increased interest in war further made her study about war and then base her
novels on war and war veterans. The focus of Barker was mainly on war veterans
rather than the cause of war or the actual event of war. This apparently
establishes the influence of transgenerational trauma in her writings.

            The present Postmodern world is an outcome of the World
Wars and the meaninglessness it created. The Postmodern world is a world of
fragmentation. The fragmented writings of the contemporary writings often
correspond to the fragmentation of the Postmodern world. The novel being the
major genre of the present time acts as a commentary on the human condition.
They challenge the traditional narrative structure and chronology. The
distorted temporality, fragmented narrative and defying the chronology is a
defining aspect of Postmodern narrative techniques. Thereby, Postmodern
narratives demands its readers to actively situate themselves in constructing
meaning through the socio-cultural environments and narrative techniques.

            Pat Barker’s Toby’s Room is a contemporary novel about a
……………….

            “Women
on board? There must be a group of nurses going out. He rolled up his coat to
form a pillow and slipped into a deeper sleep, from which he woke, jolted half
out of his wits, because some blithering idiot had fallen over him.

            ‘Look
where you’re going, you –’ Too late he registered the peaked cap. ‘Sorry, sir.’

‘Good
God, it’s Neville, isn’t it?’.

Didn’t
know the bloke from Adam. But then he took off the cap and there, impossibly,
in army uniform with the caduceus badge of the RAMC on her chest, stood Elinor
Brooke.

Of
course it bloody wasn’t. Fighting off the last vestiges of sleep, he said, ‘Captain
Brooke, sir.’

Brooke
sat down on the deck beside him and offered him a cigarette…. “(Barker 147,148)

The
narrative time stops in the hospital in 1917 and swiftly goes back to 1912 during
the time of war. The narraitive time is non-linear, fragmented and is a
distorted spatiotemporality. It  From the
historical background of the author, it is observable that her personal
experiences as an intergenerational trauma victim in her family has a major
role to play in her narrative style. Being the ‘hinge generation’, her writings
is heavily influence by her Postmemory which is reflected in her novel’s
characters and their memory which inturn resounds in the narrative style. Such
writings eventually initiates a conscious effort of the readers to understand
the trauma of the characters which is a comprehensive element of the author
herself.

The third person
omniscient narrative technique employed by the author helps in indulges the
readers in the process of meaning construction. The fragmented narrative of the
novel is a representation of the theme of the novel in itself. Trauma being the
major theme of the novel, the distorted memory of trauma victims reverberates
in the dyssynhronous narration of the novel. Meaning is thus constructed by the
readers from the non-linear structure of the text.

Thus, this paper claims
that the equivocation and dyssynchronous narrative of Barker is the technique
she had intentionally and artistically used so as to mirror the Postmemory and
symptomatology of her own self and the transgenerational victims of war.   

 

 

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