Analysis of The Forms of Loss Portrayed in Disabled and Out, Out

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About this sample


Words: 1629 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Words: 1629|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Wilfred Owen and Robert Frost both use their poems “Out, Out-” and “Disabled” to portray the prominent theme of loss. Both poems establish this through the destruction of the protagonist’s youth, cut short by the lack of maturity and wisdom which is most potently seen in Robert Frost’s poem “Out, Out-”. The poem “Disabled” depicts a soldier who has lost a number of limbs in war and is subsumed with gloom and depression. As a consequence, the soldier who was once a youthful athlete is now reduced to the shell of his former self, both mentally and physically. These forms of loss are explored through the use of language and structure in both poems.

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The Physical loss of limbs in” Disabled” and “Out, Out“ exposes the anonymous characters to the overwhelming sense of depression and self-worthlessness. Wilfred Owen uses flashbacks and juxtaposition in the first stanza to contrast the depressing and harsh effects war has on the protagonist. He juxtaposes the naive and optimistic past, with the depressing reality of the present/future due to his physical loss of his limbs which is so potent in the society he lives in. This contrast between the then and now is obvious through Owens choice of words. His ‘warm’ and ‘glowing’ pre-war past conflicts with his ‘ghastly’ and ‘grey; post-war present, thus emphasising his depressed state of being due to his physical deformity.

Similarly, Robert Frost displays the notion of the protagonist’s self-worthlessness through his accident with the “buzz saw”. Threatened with the loss of his hand the narration from a first person’s point of view resonates the immense panic of the boy. Crying out to his sister “Don’t let him cut my hand off” emphasises the sheer desperation the boy has to save his arm due to the imperative tone created through the use of “Don’t let”. This reinforces the idea that the boy understands that the physical loss of a limb would hinder his worthlessness around the farm as he would be rendered useless. The quotation “all spoiled” backs up the point of the boy’s self-worth due to the connotations being a point of no return. Here we can see physical loss negatively affect the characters of both poems inciting emotions of self-worthlessness and depression.

Wilfred Owen's poem “Disabled” is the only one out of the two that directly references the soldier’s loss of freedom. The poem starts with the depressing imagery of a young man sitting in a wheelchair, dependant on nurses and other forms of care to look after him throughout the rest of his life. In stanza 1 the use of plosive alliteration in the phrase “his ghastly suit of grey” creates a harsh tone and emphasises how his post war life has fell short of his aspirations leaving a great void and sadness identifying how little he has to celebrate. This initial setting of the tone allows for the phrases “Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn” to stand out as the soldier’s longingness for freedom. The use of auditory imagery (voices of boys) establish the fact that the soldier is confined to his wheelchair and thus cannot physically describe the sight of the boys in the park. Owens use of atmosphere and auditory imagery identifies the soldier’s loss of freedom.

The fear of a loss of social contact is a recurring aspect in the entirety of both poems although to varying extents. Wilfred Owen identifies that due to the soldier’s current state “he will never feel again how slim girls’ waists are, or how warm their subtle hands.” The use of the adverb “never” produces a definitive and harsh tone, which only implies that his pre-war past can only ever be a fantasy. This places emphasis on the psychological scars the protagonist has obtained from his loss of social contact with the world around him due to his physical loss of limbs. Owens depiction of activities that the reader would instantaneously take for granted reaffirms the harsh reality the protagonist is facing creating an underlying tone of remorse and pity. This builds a visual image of social isolation due to his absence of what he once had with references to his romantic past.

On the other hand, Robert Frost explorer’s social isolation in the form of family members which is shown after the boy’s unfortunate death. “since they Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.”, the immediate dismissal of their own blood can only highlight the distant relationship the boy had with his family. The detachment from the boy after his death enforces the concept of the boy’s social isolation due to their prompt dismissal of him as if he was insignificant and held no true value to the family. Consequently, from the narrator’s perspective the boy’s loss of social contact with his friends and family has made the process of bereavement very easy and swift in nature.

Both the boy of Frost’s poem and the veteran amputee of Owens’s poem have lost their innocence as well as their optimistic perspective on life. The overall structure of Owen's poem plays on the idea of past vs present where each stanza portrays a different part of the past or the present day. This allows a significant contrast to be made between both reminiscent emotions and reflection/regret. Which in turn forces the emotion of pity onto the reader due to the soldier hardship. An example of where Owen romanticises the past is “when glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees.” His use of personification with budded adds to the fantasy of the past. Budded has connotations of new life and regeneration, whereas “legless” is about loss and decay. In stanza three, Owen uses colour to describe vivid images. For example, “leap of purple spurted from his thigh” and “he’s lost his colour very far from here”. These images suggest a lack of regeneration and how his life has been cut short. The “budded” image is surrounded by these dark and bleak images suggesting that regeneration is a thing of the past and something that cannot be reclaimed; the present outweighs the fantasy of the past. This conflict in past naivety and the pessimistic approach to the present has dismantled any optimism and innocence the soldier now has due to the harsh realities of war and the constant burden it can have on life.

Frost identifies the loss of innocence through the construction of pathos. This is achieved by conveying the fact that the boy in the poem is just a ‘boy’ who is condemned to do “man’s work”. This highly labour-intensive work causes the boy to miss out on his childhood. Subsequently causing him to grow up immediately and fulfil a man’s role. By instantly fulfilling a man’s role the connotations of innocence and purity associated with childhood are destroyed. “The boy counts so much when saved from work” conveys that the boy has lost so much not to mention has so much to lose for example family and youth. Even though it was never perceived as a main part of his life due to his loss of innocence at a young age.

Thus, in both poems brevity and fragility of life itself is emphasised through how both of the characters are young, and have been through obstacles that have made them lose their innocence and either because of it or loses life itself. But in fact, contrast in the way that in one poem life is taken away whilst on the other hand in the other poem life becomes a painfully long episode.

The most striking element in both poems is the essence as to how life indefinitely goes on no matter what form of loss you face. Frost effectively expresses the essence that life will go on and how a single life is insignificant universal, by using a neutral tone to describe how the boy has died. More significantly what highlights this is the line “little – less – nothing! – and that ended it” in which the word “it” signifies indifference in human life. These factors culminate with the one continuous stanza structure to demonstrate the swiftness of the boy’s accident and fate. Therefore, reiterating due to its swift nature as if the narrator is reflecting on a distant thought. The concept of it being distant establishes that loss is not as significant to those around you in comparison to the person (boy) who dealt with it, instead life moves on without you.

On the other hand, the continuation of life after a form of loss in “Disabled” is again illustrated through the structure of the stanzas being broken up into a chronological before and after. The soldier’s belief in his significance is shattered after his physical deformity occurs inaugurating the idea that he is insignificant in relation to the rest of the world. However, the continuation of the poem establishes even after loss, life goes on and does not stop for anyone. Instead the line “How cold and late it is! Why don’t they come and put him into bed? Why don’t they come?” makes him seem desperate and dependant. This is shown through the abrupt sentences and parallelism between them provoking frustration because of his lack of independence.

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In conclusion both poems portray a variety of different forms of loss from physical loss to loss of significance. Nevertheless, Wilfred Owen's poem “Disabled” explores the greatest range of types of loss most clearly. However, Robert Foster’s poem focuses predominantly on the impacts the loss of a childhood has on a young boy and the devastating impacts it initiates. The use of different structures has allowed for both poets to achieve their desired tone of pity and remorse for the characters in both poems constantly provoking pathos. Finally, the use of language has heightened the forms of loss felt by the reader.  

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Analysis Of The Forms Of Loss Portrayed In Disabled And Out, Out. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Analysis Of The Forms Of Loss Portrayed In Disabled And Out, Out.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
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