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The Man He Killed
The Man He Killed
by Thomas Hardy

The Man He Killed Theme of Warfare

"The Man He Killed" isn't your average war poem. It's personal, brief, and haunting. There are no grand generalizations, no waxing poetic about glory and sacrifice, and no grisly, graphic battlefield scenes. It's just a guy, telling someone about the fact that one time, he shot a man down. It's as simple as that. Except that it isn't.

Questions About Warfare

  1. Is this a pro-war poem? An anti-war poem? Does it even take a stance? How can you tell?
  2. Why don't we get more details of the battlefield? Where's the grisly kill scene? Where's the glory?
  3. What do you think the speaker thinks of war? Is he traumatized? Indifferent? Regretful? Proud?

Chew on This

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

This is not an anti-war poem. It's merely pointing out a fact of war—that men have to kill each other for reasons they don't understand.

This is totally an anti-war poem, because Hardy is pointing out the senselessness of these deaths. Men who could have just as well have been friends should not be killing each other for the sake of some cause. They're not really foes in the first place.

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