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Wounded Soldiers

Symbol Analysis

Band-Aid should open a retail store in this version of Wilfred Owen's Hell, because they'd make bank. There's no shortage of the bleeding and wounded. Sure, they're dead, but that doesn't seem to have put an end to their suffering. Which brings us to our next point: not all the wounds in this poem are physical. These soldiers are clearly suffering from serious mental anguish as well. It's probably no coincidence that Owen himself suffered from physical wounds and a serious bout of shell shock, and he does a very convincing job of depicting both types here.

  • Lines 4-5: These lines might not seem like much on the suffering scale on first read, but once you understand them in the context of the entire poem, they perfectly sum up the mental suffering of these fallen soldiers. Here they are, "encumbered," or burdened by their mental suffering, and they're just lying there groaning because things are so immeasurably bad for them. It's not always guts and gore that make for the most painful wounds. 
  • Lines 12-14: These lines are a little ironic. The speaker's all, hey guys we've actually escaped battle. Suffering is so a thing of the past! Unfortunately their "escape" is actually a descent into hell where they'll suffer in physical and mental anguish for eternity. Not. So. Great. 
  • Line 27: Speaker number two looks into his gloomy crystal ball and sees more bloodshed for future generations to come. Huge bummer.
  • Line 34: This is a continuation of the idea in line 27. As long as there is war, there will be bloodshed, and the soldier will suffer for it. 
  • Line 39: We already touched on the clever Christ symbolism here, but it's also a great example of the soldiers suffering mental and emotional anguish. Owen is quick to point out that there doesn't need to be an actual wound to feel suffering. Some of the worst wounds these soldiers seem to suffer are mental and emotional wounds. 
  • Line 42: Ouch. Owen doesn't shy away from giving you a glimpse of the gory side of war. Speaker one likely stabbed speaker two with a bayonet to kill him.

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