What has been included ?- Words
The words “Passing-bells”, have been chosen to make the reader wonder whether the bells will ring to announce the deaths of the individual young men, portraying it to the world. However the reality is that every young soldier who goes to war has been compared to cattle which is meaning they are like cattle going to a slaughter house one after the other. The leading question of whether their lives will be honoured when they die by bells ringing out is impossible. Too many young men dyeing one after the other to be honoured individually announcing their deaths. All together the line says “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle”, which ties together the fact that these young men fail to receive the attention to their heroism instead they are seen as a group of heroes who the bells ring out for.
Another word frequently used is “them”. These words have been chosen to identify the soldiers and categorise them. The word conveys a category for the soldiers who feel and experience the casualties of war events. “Them” stands for the soldiers ideas, their feelings of loss and missing the people they love. It stands for the places they visit that were supposed to be “new experiences” and “new sights”, a way of travelling the world. When “Them” stands for the soldiers we understand when an event is compared to this word that it is the soldiers who are being affected by the events.
The word “Pall” has been used to make the reader be concerned whether their bodies, wherever they are in the world will receive a grave, with a pall over their coffin. The grave each and every soldier deserves. The word “pall” conveys sadness and loss as a pall is a cloth that lies over a coffin. The word “pall” affects the readers understanding because it makes us come to terms that soldiers have been killed and they might be honoured at home by bells or prayers but where their bodies lie, might be in cold, mud. A grim environment, that a soldier doesn’t deserve, soldiers who die get trapped here. They never escape the muddy fields of blood and hatred.
The author uses a simile in the line “these who die as cattle”. Owen does this to attach the characteristics of cattle being compared to soldiers. He does this to show the similarity between young soldiers going to war one after the other like cattle do when they go to the slaughterhouse. This is a strong comparison because it becomes so normal and frequent for young boys and men to be going to war just like it is for cattle to killed. By using a simile it sparks the readers imagination while still getting the information and idea across.
Another language feature used is personification in the line “monstrous anger of guns”. Personification is when non human objects which in this case is the gun is given human qualities of monstrous anger. It connects the reader with the human feelings that the gun has been given because the reader may be able to relate to the characteristics which helps them understand. Guns being compared to “monstrous anger” portrays the idea that the soldiers behind the guns are bottled up with frustration. Anger drives the soldiers to fight when it gets tough and they no longer want to be there. Its what drives them to pull the trigger.
Emotive language was used with the word “goodbyes”. Emotive language is used to make the reader feel specific emotions and think about the way the ideas being presented. When the word “goodbyes” are used it makes the reader think of the last time the soldier said goodbye to his family, the feelings of sadness and loss or the fact that no-one knew this would be the last time they would see each other. Goodbyes are always a hard thing and makes someone feel a sense of loss, this would of been the hardest thing for a family and their son, husband or father.
Contrasting Vocabulary and Images
In the poem Owen fails to use positive ideas and portrays negative outcomes especially for the young soldiers going to war and what their families have to deal with back at home. Some negative ideas used include “passing-bells”, which is negative because the bells ring to announce and honour someones death and in the poem it is used to show the significance of the fact that the soldiers who risk so much dont receive this when they deserve it. Another negative idea is the word “orisons” also known as prayers. This is a negative aspect in the poem because when one prays, it is in hope that a bad situation will have a positive outcome. Owen may of used this word to contrast the image of families at home praying and praying that their son will arrive home safe. However this could also be seen as a positive aspect because the soldiers families are remaining hopeful in that their sons return. But we later learn in the poem that their is no positive outcome to many of these families orisons.