While I was reading the various texts in part two of the Paper

Published: 2021-09-10 19:35:09
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While I was reading the various texts in part two of the anthology some key themes and ideas stood out such as violence, war, poverty and loneliness but what interested me the most was the underlying message of the frailty of life. In ‘The Necklace’ Mathilde single action of losing the necklace cast a dramatic difference in her life within a single instant likewise in ‘Significant cigarettes’ lev whole life was snatched up and was forced to leave his family and to go to unknown country all within a single moment’s notice.
However for my coursework, the text that stood out to me was “Out, Out-” by Robert Frost, this poem left a significant impression on me as it recounts how a young boy with a future full of possibilities died within a few hours due to a single injury made by a flash of distraction due to the one word ‘Supper’. In addition, the narrator’s indifference to the brutality of the situation makes me feel annoyed as it results in the poem portraying life as short and meaningless. I chose to compare “Out, Out-” with ‘Disabled’ by Wilfred Owen as they share many things in common. They both share the theme of Drastic Injury, Child Labour, Waste of youth and the frailty of Life. Like the boy in “Out, Out-“ the boy in ‘Disabled’ suffered the immense tragedy due to the drastic decision made under the influence of alcohol and to please his crush. Although both these poems were written in similar timeframes their countries were in different situation. Britain at the time was in the early stages of ww1 meanwhile America was still a spectator, we can see this difference in the fact that the boy in “Out, Out-” got injured and died in the open air in a beautiful environment next to his sister. In contrast to this the boy in ‘Disabled’ got injured in the gruesome battlefield and will go on later to die in a cold, dark and lonely Institute. I found it interesting to explore how each poem portrays the frailty of life in different ways and to analyse the two-contrasting character of the boy in “Out, Out-” who unwillingly worked in the sawmill and the boy in ‘Disabled’ who joined the army for ulterior motives.
How do ‘Disabled’, by Wilfred Owen, and “Out, Out -”, by Robert Frost use language and structure to comment on the frailty of life?
The frailty of life is an imposing theme in both “Out, Out -” and ‘Disabled’; Both poems portray life as being delicate, short and fickle. In ‘Disabled’ Owen uses vivid metaphors to illustrate how the boy’s decision to go to war has made his life grim and gloomy whilst in “Out, Out -” Frost uses rhythm and punctuation to reveal how the boy’s single moment of negligence caused him to lose his life prematurely.
The boy in ‘Disabled’ suffered immense physical injury due to the war, where he became legless and sewn short at the elbow conveying to the audience that life is delicate. ‘Disabled’ commences with a vivid description of the boy’s state after he came back from war; he is described as ‘waiting for dark’ in his ‘ghastly suit of grey’. On one hand, it may seem as if the boy is waiting for the night but I think ‘waiting for dark’ is a metaphor for death. This is accentuated by his use of the adjective ‘grey’ and ‘ghastly’ which has connotations of ghosts showing he feels like he is already dead, highlighting the man’s fragile state. Wilfred Owen depicts the appalling injuries the boy suffered as voluntary stating that the boy ‘Poured it down shell-holes’ and ‘threw away his knees’, the verb ‘poured’ and ‘threw’ reveal how Wilfred Owen is portraying the injuries as voluntary. I think Wilfred Owen does this because he is trying to convey to the audience that every one of our decision impacts us and that we should be held accountable for them. In addition, ‘Poured it down shell-holes’ is part of the extended metaphor that colour is life and that life is like a liquid suggesting to the reader that life is in a sensitive balance and can easily be spilled by your decisions.
‘Disabled’ uses the juxtaposition of pre- and post-war to reveal to his audience how life can change drastically because of a single decision. The poem introduces us to the boy’s former life when he was ‘younger than his youth’. This exposes to the reader that before he left for war, he was young and handsome, which contrasts with the line ‘Now, he is old’. The juxtaposition of ‘youth’ in the previous sentence and ‘old’ in the next illustrates to the reader how life is brief and can change drastically. Later on, it states that the boy will ‘Now’ ‘spend a few sick years in Institutes’ before he dies. The adjective ‘sick’ exposes to the audience he will have a miserable and unpleasant death, furthermore the noun ‘institutes’ has a negative connotation of mental asylums suggesting to the audience that he has been shunned from society and is being contained far away. This contrasts with the previous line where it is said that after a football match he was ‘carried shoulder-high’. The combination of the verb ‘carried’ and adjective ‘high’ implies to the reader that they valued him in society, in addition, the fact that he was good at football shows he was physically fit and active. The repeated juxtaposition of many of these phrases highlights to the audience the sense of loss that the boy feels and how he is living in his past, the rapid and sharp transition using the conjunction ‘Now’ between the time frames emphasises this, but also implies that he is being constantly reminded of the harsh reality. The drastic juxtaposition of his descriptions shocks the audience as they know that only one year has passed, portraying to them how drastically someone’s life can evolve from full of joy and limitless opportunities to depressive and restricted, emphasising how fragile life is.
Finally, ‘Disabled’ also comments on the reaction of people to the boy after the war to convey his message on the frailty of life. This is clear in the line ‘All of them touch him like some queer disease.’ and ‘how the women’s eyes/ Passed from him to the strong men’. The use of the adjective ‘queer’ conveys to the reader that he has become a social outcast and is viewed as a disease. The use of the determiner ‘all’ shows how this is a collective opinion. The use of the verb ‘passed’ shows how he feels like he is no longer young and feels unconfident. Furthermore, the repetition of this idea displays to the reader how profoundly he feels excluded and ignored, showing how he misses physical contact. Later on, it is stated that ‘Only a solemn man who brought him fruits/ Thanked him’, The capitalisation and italics of the ‘Thanked’ suggests to me that he feels bitter at the ignorance of the man as plainly his soul is not his major concern. All of these contradict with the very reason why he went to war, which was to please the ‘giddy jilts’ and for the crowd to cheer for him conveying to the reader how life is unexpected, unpredictable and can be ruined any minute, illustrating to the reader the vulnerability and the fickle nature of life.
Likewise, in “Out, Out -” Robert frost uses language and structure to convey the fragility of life through the young boy’s injury and death. Throughout the poem “Out, Out -”, Robert frost uses multiple techniques to repeatedly convey to his audience that life can change in a moment. The title of “Out, Out -” is part of a dialogue in Macbeth where he says “Out, Out, brief candle!” referring to his life. The adjective ‘brief’ expressing to the reader that life is short, furthermore, the metaphor comparing life to a candle, illustrates how it is delicate and perishable. The deliberate reference to this metaphor suggests to me that Robert Frost wanted to disclose to his audience that life is short and unpredictable. Furthermore, I think Owen purposefully wrote this poem using an irregular rhyme scheme to convey to his audience that life is unpredictable and can change at any moment. In the line ‘Little- less- nothing! – and that ended it’ indicates the fickle nature of life. The pauses created by the dashes were utilised to make the audience feel as if they are listening to the boy’s heartbeat, revealing to them how easy life can be snuffed out. The verb phrase ‘that ended it’ disturbs the reader as they realise that the boy is dead and that nothing can change the situation, the immediate and irreversible transition between life and death highlights to the audience the fragility of life.
When the boy cuts his hand off, Robert Frost also compares life to a liquid showing he too thinks life is delicate, this is evident in the line ‘to keep/ The life from spilling’. However, Robert frost also emphasises to the audience that we should protect life, which is visible from the start of the poem where there is a regretful tone in the line ‘Call it a day, I wish they might have said’. The verb ‘wish’ foreshadows to the audience that something awful is going to take place and that it could have been avoided. In addition, his use of the verb ‘keep” reveals that the boy is desperately struggling to save his life, conveying that life is precious and limited. Robert frost uses this idea to depict to the audience how life is unpredictable and irreversible exposing the vulnerability of life.
In “Out, Out -”, Frost portrays how life carries on for everyone else, indicating to the audience that life is futile and brief. This is evident in the last two lines ‘No more to build on’ and ‘they, since they/ Were not the ones dead, turned to their affairs’. The verb ‘build’ carries connotations of working suggesting to the reader they viewed him as a failed project or a tool that no longer works. The short sentence creates an abruptness to the poem portraying the callousness of the narrator, disgusting the audience. Furthermore, the verb ‘turned’ involves the connotation of betrayal suggesting that they are just leaving and forgetting him, illustrating how life is brief and signifies nothing. Finally, the use of the noun ‘affairs’ conveys to the reader they are just turning to their own businesses showing the unsympathetic reaction that humans have and how we are all selfish, but it also demonstrates how our lives are trivial and inconsequential.
In conclusion after comparing the two poems we are presented with two very similar messages of life being fragile despite being set in two different countries. Wilfred Owen uses rhyme and punctuation to convey his message on the importance of life and its unpredictability. Robert Frost uses juxta positioning and rich descriptions to allude to the vulnerability of life and its fickle nature. Both “Out, Out -” and ‘Disabled’ present the fragility of life and its delicate nature through their use of vivid metaphors creating an engaging poem with deep and thought-provoking messages.

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