‘Disabled’ by Wilfred Owen tells the story of a young soldier who has returned from war and realizes how different his old life is to the new one where he is now disabled both mentally and physically. In contrast, the story of ‘Out Out’ is of the harsh realities of life for a boy completing his everyday chores, sawing wood, in the backdrop of the beautiful New England mountains. He accidentally cuts his hand off and succumbs to an inevitable death.
Throughout the poem ‘Disabled’ a theme of lost childhood is constructed with frequent juxtaposition between pre-war boyhood and post-war life as a wounded cripple. Before he threw ‘away his knees’ the writer expresses that ‘girls glanced lovelier’ at him, he was described as an outgoing boy who enjoyed going out and meeting girls at night when ‘the town used to swing so gay’. He is now an aged cripple viewed as some crippling ‘queer disease’. He will ‘never feel again how slim girl’s waists are, or how warm the subtle hands’ as after his accident girls eyes ‘pass from him to the men that were whole. Owen’s use of sensual lexis . ‘War has aged the protagonist, ‘he is old; his back will never brace’, even though the protagonist has not aged more than two years since he went to war.
He is now older inside his mind and even though he still looks young on the outside due to his deformities he is treated like an old man. One of the reasons the boy joined the army to go to war was ‘to please his Meg’. Showing the boys immaturity, he will naïvely risk his life to impress a girl. He views war as just another game where he can become the hero.
However upon his return from war only ‘some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer goal’ implying only a few greeted him. This portrays Owen’s disgust at society for turning their backs, and essentially rejecting on those who gave so much is clear here. At the beginning of the second stanza of the poem the reader is bought back in time when the boy reminisces about before he went to war. The juvenile nature of the boy is confirmed when he signed up for the war because he was told ‘he’d look a God in kilts’ and ‘Germans he scarcely thought of; all of their guilt and Austria’s, did not move him.
And no fears/Of fear came yet’.