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Submitted Literature

Double Vision

By Pat Barker


Pat Barker's Double Vision explores issues surrounding the trauma of loss and bereavement in the twenty-first century through multiple perspectives. Central protagonist Stephen Sharkey is a war correspondent. Suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder he returns to rural England from Afghanistan. Haunted by the violence he has witnesed and the violent death of his friend, photographer Ben Frobisher, he embarks on an affair with vicar's daughter, Justine. But Stephen is not the only one suffering loss. Ben's widow Kate, damaged by bereavement must also learn to live with the loss of her independence following a car crash; Justine has been abandoned by both her mother and a lover and Stephen's brother Robert and his wife Beth struggle to live with the bittersweet gift of an Aspergen son, Adam.

Barker writes with a wonderful, dextrous touch. Multi-facetted and non-judgemental Double Vision explores complex and painful issues without flinching as it examines the healing possibilities of redemption.      

Key Themes:

  • Bereavement

Significant Quotes / Pages

"All those times when Kate had tried to talk about her grief for Ben, and Angela had gently, but firmly, reminded her that she had lost Thomas and William and Rufus and Harry. Yes, Kate had wanted to say, but Ben was my husband, and they were like, well,...SHEEP?

She'd always managed not to say it, remembering the time she'd switched the television on to watch the six o'clock news and seen Angela rolling around on the muddy ground, displaying her knickers to the whole nation, as she defied the men from the Ministry of Agriculture who'd come to kill her 'boys'. It had taken three policemen to hold her down. And anyway who was she to quantify somebody else's love or decide how much grief was reasonable?"   

Reference: Pat, Barker. 2003. Double Vision. Penguin, 2004


Dr. Helen Bralesford
Date Review Submitted: Monday 26th April 2010