Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road: Fight Against Mental Illness

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In Joseph Boyden’s novel Three Day Road, ‘traumatized’ is an understatement when it comes to the effects of World War 1 on active soldiers. Death, injury, malnutrition, illness, and disability are some of the most threatening physical consequences of war, _ while post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety are some of the emotional effects_. In the case of characters in Three day Road”,the use of morphine causes distraction and distances in relationships between one another. Elijah and Xavier’s relationship is put to the test as Elijah’s excessive use of morphine becomes too much for his health and their friendship. Dealing with the constant pressure of war, Elijah grows a relationship with Grey eyes in order to receive morphine to cope with the challenges of war. Not only does Xavier deal with the guilt of Elijah’s death, but also deals with PTSD and constant flashbacks of his traumatizing past. Elijah’s experience on the battlefield causes his extreme drug addiction with morphine in hopes to numb the emotional and physical pain caused by the war.

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“My body cries out for the medicine so loudly that I decide not to even try to hide what I do”(177) Morphine allows the characters to escape from the realities of the world causing a new battle within them. This quote remains important due to the fact that it shows how and why the life of Elijah seems to be so dependent on the drug in which he can make his life better as if he wanted to escape his reality. This influences both his actions and the relationships around him.Elijah starts losing who he was and starts seeing sucide as a potential solution to solving all of his problems. Thus changing his relationship with Xavier. Often, Xavier begins to recognizes him as more of a man who is at odds with what may be the right thing to do, when it could possibly be dangerous to those around him. This has negatively impacted their relationship, which has resulted in them not being as close now because Elijah’s temperament has changed for the worse and morphine makes Elijah do terrifying things.

In Joseph Boyden’s book ‘Three Days Road,’ when Elijah enters the war, he meets a fellow soldier called Grey Eyes. When Elijah and Xavier first enter the war, they stick to themselves but very soon Grey Eyes becomes the first to really talk to Elijah. Grey Eyes and Elijah sit down together to watch the camp and start talking. Presumably, Grey Eyes is relaxed with Elijah as he informs him what medication he has been using. He discusses how medicine benefits your body, and what it can do for you. “Elijah is fascinated by Grey Eyes use of it. He even goes so far as to watch him when he is in that place” (Pg 65). This is when Elijah has become interested in morphine for the first time and could suggest such foreshadowing that he might take some later. It’s believed that when Grey Eyes first helped Elijah use morphine, he treated Elijah as a friend. It’s also presumable, if Elijah hadn’t developed a friendship with Grey Eyes, he would never have had a chance to try any medication and Grey Eyes wouldn’t pressure him into it. “As I begin to close the flaps, I spot Elijah. He stands on the road, staring at me, a quizzical expression on his face. He looks like a boy left out of the game.”(247). This quote reflects how the relationship is solely business, and had been a friendship. With Elijah growing addicted, the connection between Elijah and Grey Eyes became risky. Elijah is furious since he doesn’t have sufficient medication, which results in the distancing of Grey Eyes and Elijah’s relationship. Maintaining a strictly business relationship, so Elijah could get morphine for his extreme addiction. This friendship is then dangerous when Elijah threatens to hurt Grey Eyes if he isn’t given any morphine. He eventually kills Grey Eyes because of morphine discontinuation as well as the fact that grey eyes informed the general of Elijah’s addiction. The amount Elijah would go to if his needs aren’t satisfied, proves, Elijah is a dangerous man, and that eventually drives everyone in his life away from him

The urge of feeling euphoria and escaping war trauma for even if it was for a limited amount of time, was the reasons why Elijah became extremely addicted. Elijah had made morphine the first priority in his life as he believes it helps him aim better and be pain free (mentally and emotionally). However, his morphine addiction is what affected his friendship and made him heartless. Later on in the novel, Elijah mentions that he enjoyed killing people and watching him suffer till their last breath.

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