Study Guide

Does it Matter? Death

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War is the business of death, of killing. There's no doubt about that. While many of Sassoon's poems discuss actual death, "Does it Matter?" describes a less literal kind of death—the death of dreams, and the loss of a normal life. War is about more than snuffing out life on the battlefield—in this poem, it follows you home.

Questions About Death

  1. Does the fact that Sassoon avoids talking about actual death on the battlefield make his poem a more or less effective anti-war poem?
  2. There's an old saying that goes "sweet and proper is it to die for one's country." What does Sassoon's poem have to say about this? How do you think our speaker would react to this statement? What about the people surrounding the soldier?
  3. In what ways is the soldier in "Does it Matter?" dead? Do you think that's too harsh?

Chew on This

The poem argues that people can die before they really die; the soldier in this poem is, in many ways, already dead; he doesn't eat, he can't walk, and he can't see, just like a corpse.

Society itself is partly responsible for turning former soldiers into corpse-like figures; in the final stanza, for example, nobody worries about the soldier, which suggests that they treat him almost as if he doesn't exist.

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