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Themes

While compassion and forgiveness might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you're reading a poem about war, Owen pulls it off like a pro. These dead soldiers, though enemies on the battlefield, realize now that they were all just humans in the same (really crappy) boat. And now that they're doomed to suffer for eternity, they might as well forgive each other during their "Strange Meeting." After all, now they're all damned souls in the same (even crappier) boat that's anchored in Hell Harbor.

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. Why do you think speaker number two shows compassion and forgiveness to speaker number one (his killer)? 
  2. Do you think speaker number one deserves forgiveness? Why or why not? 
  3. According to this poem, if the soldiers aren't fully responsible for the killing that happens in war, who (or what) do you think is?

Chew on This

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

Speaker number two doesn't actually forgive speaker number one for killing him. When he says, "my friend" at the end, he's being sarcastic. He's actually just psyched that speaker number one has to spend eternity in hell; he's getting what he deserves.

Speaker number two has learned compassion and forgiveness in hell because he's had time to reflect on the atrocities of war and how useless all the fighting actually is.

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