The poem “Disabled” by Winifred Owen uses many physical and mental contrasts/changes within the poem to help the reader understand the theme that lies beneath about how war is ironic, brutal and destructive. One of these changes is how the protagonist soldier goes from being a young sports hero to an old, disabled man in a wheelchair.
Throughout the poem Winifred Owen uses quotes such as “smiling they wrote his lie aged nineteen” to imply that the soldier was under aged at his time of joining the army. Winifred also writes “After matches carried shoulder-high” which demonstrates the irony of how the soldier is “legless, sewn short at elbow” but talks about how he used to think so gloriously about his days when he used to be a sports hero and “liked a blood-smear down his leg” after his football matches. This helped me understand the theme that war is ironic and destructive by showing the dire contrast from a healthy boy to a crippled war veteran.
The alliteration “half his lifetime lapsed in a hot race” is used to demonstrate again the irony and brutality of war by how half his life has passed by but it is described so quickly as a “hot race.” Alliteration was used to draw the readers’ attention to the line by exaggerating the first letter of nearly every word. This helped me understand the theme by demonstrating the consequences of war, how it feels like half his lifetime has gone by when wars really only last a few years.
The important change of a young, fit man becoming a paraplegic is a perfect example of the destructive nature of war as it is such a major difference in a person’s life. This made me think about the wars going on all around the world and how good New Zealand men and women soldiers are being seriously injured.