‘Disabled’, by Wilfred Owen, is about a young boy who experiences war first hand, which results in losing his limbs. The loss of his limbs cause him to be rejected by society and be treated ‘’like a queer disease’’. Wilfred Owens personal opinion on war is evident throughout the poem. Own expresses a negative attitude towards war due to own traumatic past, experiencing war first hand.
Owen creates sympathy for the soldier in ‘Disabled’ by using a wide range of poetic devices. Owen explores the themes of regret and loneliness to portray sympathy for the soldier. Moreover he criticizes the soldier for joining the war at a young age and for the wrong reasons.
The structure in ‘Disabled’ moves from past to present, then back to past. In the first stanza (which is present) Owen emphasizes the soldiers isolation, ‘’sat in a wheeled chair’’, this shows the aftermath of the war (the loss of the soldiers limbs); this makes the reader fell pity for the soldier. Also in the first stanza the imagery and language is dark. Owen makes the reader empathize with the soldier by using the term ‘’shivered’’ which means to shake slightly and uncontrollably as a result of being cold or frightened. In this case the soldier was cold and frightened due to the traumatizing events of war. This also emphasizes shock; it shows how the soldier is mentally scarred due to the war. This contrasts with the second stanza which begins with colourful imagery, ‘’glow lamps…light blue trees’’, this illustrates the good spirits of the town before the war. The contrast compares his life before and after the war, emphasizing the impact war had on soldiers. The structure highlights memory, emotion and sadness.
Owen portrays the soldier as helpless. In the second stanza the soldier, ‘’threw away his knees’’, the use of metaphor emphasizes his neglect and lack of care for his limbs. Further in the stanza the author creates a sense of sorrow as the soldier will ‘’never’’ be able to do the things he used to do. ‘’Never’’ is a powerful word, it shoes how the soldier’s disabilities are long term and will never be able to fit into society. This makes the reader feel sympathetic towards the soldier.
The thirds stanza contrasts between a young and old version of the character. The soldier was described as an ‘’artist silly for his face’’, this suggests he was really handsome. This contrasts with the next sentence when the soldier had ‘’lost his colour’’, the metaphor emphasizes the soldiers shock, almost as if he is a different person from what he was before the war, this emphasizing how the soldiers were affected. It highlights the horror of the war. Furthermore, Owen creates more sympathy for the character when, ‘’half his lifetime lapsed in a hot race’’, this suggests half of his life has gone mentally, socially and physically, meaning he has the characteristics of an old man due to the war. This makes the reader feel sympathetic for the soldier, who has been aged by his experiences.