Owen’s poem reveals the sheer ridiculousness of arrogant militarism. While Gibson’s The Conscript is about the healers, the doctors who become so desensitized by war that they are not affected by even the most horrible sights that they come across. These poems make an excellent case against war; they remind us that war is a waste of precious lives and that it strips us of our humanity.
Sassoon wrote The General after one of his close friends died. It is a very personal poem for him, and it questions the validity of the war. Many soldiers died in World War I due to the incompetence of those in charge and Sassoon wrote this poem decrying this very incompetence. The careless almost inhumane attitude of the general is seen as he is greeting his way through the line of his soldiers in a chirpy manner while most of them have died. His chirpy exuberance is misplaced when one considers the deaths of those under his command. The general, who most likely was safe in the back lines while his men followed his orders, does not even notice that there are many men missing – men who have died following his careless and irresponsible commands. As the men “slogged up to Arras” the city where the frontline was located throughout much of WWI, they end up blaming “his staff for incompetent swine” than place the responsibility on the General. Many a time, soldiers have to pay the price for the incompetence of their commandants, be they generals or not, and yet those in command are completely unaffected by the loss of life.
In The Parable of the Old Man and the Young, Owen retells the Old Testament story of Abraham’s sacrifice, about how he, in obedience to a direct command from god, was willing to take the life of his only son, Isaac. He uses the characters but changes the ending. He uses Isaac as an analogy for the soldiers who are sacrificed, and Abraham as the old ...
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