The speaker, a soldier, finds himself in hell during battle. There he meets another soldier who he learns is an enemy combatant that he killed. This soldier is also likely his doppelganger or another version of himself.
Dead soldier in "Strange Meeting"
A German soldier killed by the speaker and now residing in hell. He encourages the soldier to come sleep with him.
Speaker in "Apologia pro poemate meo"
The speaker makes the case that there is poetry and beauty in the soldiers and battlefield scenes he witnesses, and considers traditional poetry ineffective in dealing with the reality of war.
Speaker in "Futility"
This soldier wonders why the warm sun will not revive his dead comrade, and tries to reconcile Nature's life-giving force with the brutality of war and the multitude of dead young men.
Boy in "Arms and the Boy"
The boy, not yet a soldier, is being instructed by someone older and more experienced to touch and marvel at the weapons of war. He is naive and does not belong in the war.
Woman in "The Kind Ghosts"
This woman represents all women on the home front who do not want to be disturbed with the ghosts of the soldiers dying on the battlefield in order to sustain their peaceful ignorance.
Abram in "Parable of the Old Man and the Young"
Abram is the Old Testament figure who prepares to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. In this poem he still slays his son even when the angel appears and tells him he does not have to. Standing in as a symbol for the prideful rulers of Europe, Abram continues with slaying all of Europe's young men.
Isaac in "Parable of the Old Man and the Young"
Abram's son in Genesis, Isaac represents the young men of Europe sent off to die on the battlefield.
Soldier in "Disabled"
This soldier has lost his legs while fighting in the war and now sits, brooding on his condition. He knows he will never attract a woman and will have to be taken care of for the rest of his life. He feels old and useless, and remembers his glorious days when he played football and felt like he was on top of the world. He stands for all naive young men who think war will be simple and heroic, and they will come out unscathed.
Soldiers in "Insensibility"
These soldiers have dulled their senses, repressed all emotion, and desensitized themselves to the horrors of war in order to stay sane.
Soldier in "Dulce et decorum est"
This young soldier does not get his gas mask on in time and "drowns" in poison gas. Thrown on the back of a wagon, he coughs and gurgles as his fellow soldiers trudge next to him.
Wilfred Owen: Poems Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Wilfred Owen: Poems is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
This poem is really about the loss of youth, loss of a fully functioning body and a lament about the body's destruction in war. The half-working body sits in a wheelchair . The speaker laments about war and death. The man sits in his wheelchair...