Average Joes in War
With the United States campaigning around the Globe in the War on Terror and the military involved in Afghanistan and Iraq, young Americans experience the effect war has on people for the very first time. Many are realizing how barbaric and depressing war is. However, this realization is nothing new. Writers have attempted to characterize this realization in works of literature such as “Arms and the Boy” by Wilfred Owen. In this poem, Owen demonstrates the lethality of twentieth century warfare with progressively greater intensity, but more importantly, the normalcy of the soldiers which one normally regards with such high esteem, are no different from regular civilians. Owen shows that because we are naturally peaceful creatures, lacking weapons, we must resort to weapons to hurt each other.
The first two stanzas’ seems to describe the superficial aspects of a gun outfitted with a bayonet that a boy is attempting to use.
Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade
How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;
Blue with all malice, like a madman’s flash;
And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh.
Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-leads,
Which long to nuzzle in the hearts of lads;
Or give him cartridge whose fine zinc teeth,
Are sharp with the sharpness of grief and death.
The Bayonet described as “cold steel” with a “hunger of blood” and the lead bullet carrying “grief and death.” Upon closer inspection, the bayonet and the bullet really symbolize warfare.
The third and final quatrain seemingly appears out of nowhere, unrelated to the theme of the first two quatrains, descriptions of weapons that symbolize war.
For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple.
There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;
And God will grow no talons at his heels,
Nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.
This last quatrain...