In both Wilfred Owen’s “Disabled” and Robert Frost’s “Out, Out” the theme of loss is carried throughout. While the boy in Frost’s poem completely loses his life, Owen’s young man loses his former way of life and is just waiting for death. The title “Out, out” is a reference to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In the play Macbeth is told his wife is dead, he then begins to evaluate how brave and unpredictable life is. He says “Out, out brief candle!” Suggesting people can die as easily as a candle is playing now, portraying how the parent is about how fragile life is. Even the title “Disabled” displays the theme of loss and grab is the eye of the reader.
Obviously the protagonists in both poems experience physical loss and disability by accident, however in Frost’s case the injuries cause death. In Frost’s poem the boy is faced with the loss of his hand. The hand symbolises the man’s ability to take control over his own life, to be able to do things for himself. Without the hand he would not be able to work and provide for his family. After his sister has declared that the supper is finished and ready to eat the accident occurs. Frost uses personification to describe the buzz saw, “Leaped out of the boy’s hand” making the saw seem alive and as if it was intentional to cut the boys hand off. Frost uses an almost comical tone when he writes “neither refused the meeting” as though they were shaking hands. However Frost does not do this comical reasons what to show how easily we can do something so stupid which can have great consequences. “But the hand!”, here Frost uses a very simplistic language and doesn’t describe the scene as he has previously throughout the poem using imagery. This to the reader seems as if there are no words to describe how horrific the wound was, leaving the reader to use their own imagination. “Little-less-nothing” Frost describes the boys death simplistic way as if to portray how easily the life can be taken away. This links back to the title.
The title of Owen’s poem ‘Disabled’ instantly sets the scene for the reader. After his incident, the now ex-soldier is confined to a wheelchair, by the fact he cannot wheel himself due to further injuries he perceives himself as only half a man. Owen’s uses “wheeled” to describe his chair. This shows that because he has lost both arms and legs he relies on others to wheel him around. During the war the man becomes severely injured however it is not described how but the reader does know that he loses a high amount of blood. Owen’s writes “he’s lost his colour”, here colour is symbolising energy, life and blood as if the war drained every piece of the life out of him and left him with nothing. His use of ‘lost’ makes it seem final and as if there was no possibility of him getting his life back, wasted. Owen’s also uses “Poured it Down shell holes till Veins ran dry” talking about the blood and his life. The verb poured suggests responsibility of his naivety of the war and his losses. The fact that Owens uses till gives the reader a taste of how severe his injuries were because he couldn’t move nor could anyone help him, so he was just forced to wait and watch his veins run dry of blood. In the last two Lines Owens writes “how cold and late is! Why don’t they come? And put him into bed? Why don’t they come?”he uses two very negative adjectives almost like death and then furthermore uses a metaphor whereby he’s waiting for death itself to come and put into bed. Owens often uses colour contrast to separate the past and present. When reminiscing his past memories Owens uses locals are to and warm adjectives, an example of this is “dim” which is considered and almost romantic adjective when linking to the girls. Whereas during the present adjectives such as ‘dark’ are used creating an empty and morbid atmosphere where should reflects how he no longer has these feelings for the girls.
Owens uses the theme of loss of identity. In ‘Disabled’ the soldier is unnamed and is only stated as ‘he’. This can be interpreted as a representation of many or that he’s no longer his old self. Another example is when the soldier decides to join the army. “He thought he’d better join” when the soldier makes the decision which will later catastrophically ruin his life he was intoxicated with Alcohol and wasn’t thinking straight. The word ‘thought’ suggests that this was an in the moment idea, which he hadn’t fully thought through.”Smiling they wrote down his lie” this shows not only was it the soldiers fault because he was under the age limit and still willingly signed up but also that the recruiters to blame as they knew he was younger than the limit, and smiled whilst doing so fully knowing what they were sending this boy into.
Finally both Frost and Owens portray loss of attention. In Frost’s poem the boy please to his sister, “don’t let them, sister!” He uses the exclamation mark to show the true desperation behind his voice, yet she doesn’t listen and just ignores him. After the boys passed away the sister and his family “turned to their affairs”. This is quite a shock to the reader as the Family seem unperturbed by his shocking death, they just Carry on with their lives as if he was never there.
On the other hand Owen writes “Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal” the contrast between when he was cheered at the football match compared to coming home from war had shocked him as he had sacrificed so much more yet all the attention he received was pity. Not even everyone cheered him only some. In the first stanza Owen writes “mothered” this makes the grown man seem like a child figure. Here’s no longer the strong and tough man who set off for war but is reliant on others like a child. This is changed his perspective upon women, he no longer looks and feels the same way about then as a lovers but instead carers as mother figures. “Their eyes pass from him to the strong men that were whole” this is contrast to the past when girls were all over him but now they pay no attention to him in the ways they used to but only to take care of him because he is reliant on them. Owen uses ‘whole’ as a way to critique soldier as if he thinks he is incomplete.
“Out, out” has a one stanza structure which gives the poem a sense of singleness, reflecting the isolation of the boys accident