Both Wilfred Owen (of ‘Disabled’) and Robert Frost (of ‘Out, Out-’) have based their poem on an anonymous character; both happen to be young boys whose lives have been shattered due to a horrific accident which result in a loss of limbs. The idea of it being anonymous universalises the subject which makes it more relatable to the reader as the war had affected millions of lives, also expands on the idea of loss.
‘Disabled’ tells the story of a young man who loses all of his limbs in the First World War for stupid, unpatriotic and personal reasons: fame, vanity and “to please his Meg” at the age of about 17. In comparison, ‘Out, Out’ is about a young boy doing labour in a saw mill and accidently saws his hand off. It is a metaphor for the loss of soldiers because it was written at the time of the First World War. This undermines war; in a way that Frost is reminding the public there is other pain that people suffer from other than war.
The key comparison between the two is that both are about young boys doing a man’s work. In both ‘Out, Out-’ and ‘Disabled’ the poets manage to emphasise how short and fragile life is by portraying the characters as “young” “boys” who have their whole lives ahead of them, which represents the innocence of their youth making sense of loss more powerful and more emotive. Both of the boys’ injuries stem from a serious loss of blood. Owen states this by when the ‘Disabled’ character had “poured it down shell holes”.
“Poured” is a powerful and emotive verb, as it shows that he has lost a considerable amount of blood and the verb as well suggests that it was his own choice and now he rues the day he decided to join up. This feeling of regret is mirrored later on in the poem as well. Whereas, in ‘Out, Out-’ in strong comparison it talks about how he was trying “to keep the life from spilling”. This language is very emotive as the verb “spilling” exaggerates and intensifies the vast amount of blood loss and as well focuses on the idea of it being his choice.
It is also a metaphor for his life, as the blood is spilling away and so is his time to live. Additionally, both characters in these two poems feel great regret after they make their mistakes. The boy in ‘Out, Out-’ felt regret when he didn’t pay attention to the saw and had accidently “given” his hand away to the saw, whereas the disabled soldier felt regret when he joined up for war for stupid reasons such as fame, vanity, and also “to please his Meg”. This brings back the powerful image of loss, as he only had material motives to join war, as mentioned; “jewelled hilts”, “care of arms” and “pay arrears”.
He was already thinking of leave without even starting; these unmet expectations led to a more devastating ending for the disabled soldier as he isn’t receiving the attention he got after he came back from war, than his so- called friends pushed him towards. He had romantic views about the war; this shows the naivety of him and makes the reader feel his empathy. Additionally, it emphasises how irreproachable his personality was because this perfect, model teenage boy has made the mistake of a lifetime.