28th March 2018

2.9- Disabled by Wilfred Owen

The poem “Disabled”, written by Wilfred Owen, is about a teenage soldier and the consequences he faces after the glory and feeling of being a hero disappears over time after returning from war. The poem portrays to the reader how the soldier feels when he comes back from war injured, looking different and not attractive as he once was. This becomes a consequence for the soldier because no longer do woman look at him like they used to and he is now seen to be invisible despite his bravery. This poem by Wilfred Owen shows the reader how isolated a soldier feels from society after the war and how his appearance is no longer what it used to be.

The way the soldiers feelings were displayed throughout the poem affected the readers views and challenged the reader to think of what it was like for a soldier to return from the war and try fit back into society. Before I read this poem I failed to acknowledge the difficulties of society and romance, especially the struggle to get married and be the breadwinner again although the returning soldier may be unfit to do so as a consequence from the war. This was shown in the line “And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,- In the old times, before he threw away his knees.”. From this quote it suggests to the reader girls used to see him as a handsome young man, referring to this in “the old times”, before the war, “before he threw away his knees”, meaning before he got injured at the front, the reader assuming he possibly lost his lower legs below the knee. From this it proves how a teenage soldier feels, because he is legless this is an unattractive attribute therefore suggesting females fail to find him attractive, even though his bravery and strength has brought him home. In the lines “all of them touch him like some queer disease”, it shows the reader how females now see these injured men who are still recovering from the war. The reader figures there sacrifice and bravery at war is invisible to these women, they fail to see through to a soldiers heart and choose to focus on their physical attributes. The reader learns from this line that females now treat the soldiers like “some queer disease”, this may challenge the reader to think how rude and selfish women are to see these young men this way, since they have sacrificed so much to keep especially the women of their country safe. Although if I were in the womens shoes, once soldiers had returned home a stronger soldier in one piece is going to be better to marry than a crippled soldier because then the reader wouldn’t have to be responsible for a disabled man and have to constantly be looking after him. I personally would also try to marry someone who is able to go out and work and be the breadwinner as this was an important male figure during this time period and women going to work was very rare. The reader may apply what their life would be like if they lost their lower legs, the feeling of loneliness because people see you differently and how to survive everyday life without relying on someone else. I personally believe today it would be easier to adapt to life without legs because of an advance in technology like electronic wheel chairs and synthetic legs. However the soldiers from this poem would have had very basic wheelchairs and crutches to use which makes me believe it would have been especially hard to adapt to being legless and challenges me to question whether the government payed the injured soldiers a benefit weekly or monthly to get by since I presume the majority would be unfit to work. I would recommend this poem to year 12 and 13 students because it challenges the reader to think further than soldiers just coming home safely, it made me realise the consequences of fatal experiences and injuries from the war once a soldier returns home and how females failed to acknowledge the strength and bravery every single soldier had to have to get home despite whatever state they were in. This poem made me realise that even in todays society females are able to look through the positive characteristics in a man keeping these factors invisible and only paying attention to a mans physical attributes and how much money they have or can make. Which is also seen in this poem because women want nothing to do with an injured soldier due to his physical attributes and also the fact that he is unfit to make an income for his wife or girlfriend. This makes me sad because I believe women should be able to work hard enough and be motivated to make their own money and not intend to rely on a male figure to provide this. I also feel sympathetic for men who dont have great physical attributes and how women just instantly mug them off for something ideally better. This poem also gave me a new perspective of the arrival home for a soldier because I tended to focus more on the relief of a soldier returning and how it wouldn’t matter what state he was in, as long as he came home safely that was all that mattered. But from this poem it has proven to me that a soldier coming home wasn’t all that positive as it seemed, because the experiences a soldier had to face at the frontline and then to try fit back into everyday life would be a challenge because no soldier would be the same man the women or girls of society once knew him as.


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Peta, I really appreciated your question in class today about whether you should include “the reader” or “I” – from reading your response, my suggestion would be both, however it is pivotal that you do include “I” throughout your response. In fact, I think that making judgements about how the reader is affected by the lines you have chosen, and then talking about some of your personal thoughts/feelings would structure this work nicely.


Respond now!