Disabled by Wilfred Owens is a poem describing a soldier’s past and present life. The poet uses important techniques, negative connotation, simile and euphemism. Owen explores the many consequences of those who had to live through the vicious war. Helping us understand the key idea, war is an evil created by society.
The poet starts of describing the soldier’s somber present life. In stanza one line Owen uses negative connotation, “he sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark”. The negative connotation on the verb “waiting” creates a sense of hopelessness. Showing that the soldier does not seem to have an anticipation for a bright future or any future. “Waiting” and “wheeled” both imply he is unable to do anything on his own. He is in a “wheeled” chair due to his disability. Negative connotation is used again in stanza one line two to three “shivered in his ghastly suit of grey, legless, sewn short at elbow”. The poet blatantly depicts the soldier’s current predicament. He is dressed up in a suit, with three missing limbs. The negative connotation on the adjective “ghastly” conveys how the soldier feels about his current state. He finds his appearance to be hideous and unpleasant. He sees himself as a monster. The negative connotation on the adjective “grey” is a very depressive, bleak and bland colour. Further where he is at in his current life. Owen has used the important technique, negative connotation, to describe the soldier’s discouraged like. He describes his situation in depth, wanting the reader to be able to understand and empathise with the soldier. It is our human nature for what we feel on the inside to be reflected by what we look like on the outside. Due to the effects of war on the soldier, he is left feeling alone and depressed. Which is mirrored on the outside with his ghastly and grey appearance.
We can see the soldier reminiscing his past. While sitting in the park waiting for the day to end, the soldier hears the sounds of boys playing and having fun. The sounds of youth and joy forces him to remember back to a time where he was mobile just like them, stanza one line four “voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn”. This simile compares the voices of boys to a hymn. However he does not just compare it to a hymn, but a “saddening” hymn. Hymns are religious songs praising God. Many religious people believe God is the one who plans out their lives. He resents God as he made him “disablied. The soldier is treated unrightfully. This is seen in a simile, stanza two line seven “they touched him like a queer disease” They do not touch him as if he had a disease but as if he was a disease. He sacrificed everything for the war. Yet he is ostracized and alienated in return. He feels as though his sacrifices were a waste. Owen has successfully used the important technique simile. The comparisons made the situation more vivid. Leaving readers feeling indignant. Helping the reader understand the key idea, wars are unnecessary. Pointless wars leave many innocent victims hurt and killed. The soldier essentially sacrificed his life for war and the peace of others. But he is left unable to do anything but receive the unjustifiable alienation. War left many victims like the soldier. All due to people who do not know any other method aside from violence to solve disagreements. As a society we should not be treating the less fortunate any differently.
The soldier’s thoughts on the future is portrayed in the last stanza. The contrast between his past and present life shows how he has no choice but to surrender. Nothing works out for him. This is shown in stanza seven line two “and do the things the rules consider wise”. He no longer is in charge of his own life. He will let society choose how he will live his last few years. Euphemism and repetition is used in stanza seven line seven “why don’t they come and put him into bed? Why don’t they come?”. The poet uses the euphemism “put him into bed” to indirectly mention how the soldier wishes to be put out of his misery. He no longer feels comfortable nor does he feel safe living. He wishes to sleep forever and escape reality. He thought of death seems to be more desirable. It takes a considerable amount of pain for a human to feel this way. Making this euphemism even more significant. The repetition helped the poet reinforce his message. Owen’s use of language techniques has clearly portrayed the key idea, wars leave many vulnerable victims. We should respect everyone and anyone. The soldier suffers to society’s mistakes. Due to society’s countless propaganda, many young men signed up for the war, wanting to have fun and receive honor and glory. But most soldiers do not experience this. The rest are forgotten and shunned from society. Leaving them feeling helpless and thinking death is the only way. This mindset is becoming a real issue in society today. Those who are faced with depression often can not find a way out. Seeing suicide or death as a comparatively easier way out. Which just shows how bad the state of people like the soldier’s mental health can become.
Throughout the poem, Owen has jumped back and forth between the past and present, using important techniques. Leaving readers feeling empathetic towards the soldier. Helping them understand the key idea, war brings many sufferings.