Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

Sure, "Arms and the Boy" doesn't describe any actual fighting, but it does give us a vivid picture of a young soldier who, apparently, is learning the ropes of warfare. He's young, doesn't know how to use his gun, and seems like an unwitting pawn in some cruel game. In other words, he's in way over his head.

Questions About Warfare

  1. How does the speaker feel about war? How can you tell?
  2. Does "Arms and the Boy" offer a balanced perspective on war? Why or why not?
  3. Owen told his mother that "Arms and the Boy" was about the "unnaturalness" of weapons. What is unnatural about the weapons in the poem?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

This is an anti-war poem, through and through.

This poem only dislikes wars that have no just cause, wars where it feels like the weapons are the ones doing all the decision-making.

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