In the book the wars Timothy uses the elements of earth, wind, fire and as double sided meanings were one is the challenge of war and one is the strategy Robert used the element to keep him sane. If we look at earth for Roberts soldier side. We can see that it is always refereed to the mud, which was one of the soldier’s greatest enemies. It caused many soldiers to drown as well as slow down soldiers during artillery strikes. For Roberts’s normal side we see how he frees Rodwells toad in the mud showing earth’s nature side.
The Earth at one point traps Robert making Robert have to struggle free harder and harder faster and faster causing Robert to be temporary blind from the gas. The earth also resembled Roberts’s love for nature since he used animals to resemble the people he knew to keep some sanity during the war this though led to Roberts blindness at the end of the war. Robert blinded himself so much in the belief that he used this to save the horses, which was one of the first things he ever killed losing his innocence. I believe this was Roberts way of saying he wanted his innocence back and wasn’t able to keep the soldier face on any more.
Finley also uses the air as an element for its life giving properties or the unluckiness of bringing deathly gases. During the war Robert uses the air to see his childhood …the mist was filled with rabbits and Rowena and his father and his mother and the whole of his past life—birth and death and childhood. He could breathe them in and breathe them out. ”(p. 14). During the battles of war though Robert is constantly running and hiding from the air to live but at the same time everytime he breaths he remembers his home, “Slithering over the crater’s rim—a pale blue fog appeared. Like a veil his mother might’ve worn. ”(P. 137).
From this I believe he uses the air to think for what he has to live for at home. He uses this to stay sane as well as give him something to live for increasing his chances of survival. At the ending of the book they say you can see the air he his breathing which is Robert finally being home as his own sane self. For fire it is both chaos as well as what brings back Roberts human side. In the barn Robert suffers serious burns to the face which is supposed to resemble his soldier face disappearing. After his time in the hospital Robert lives a normal life away from war where we can finally see him smiling in a photo of him with his burnt face.