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IGCSE Disabled by Wilfred Owen Model Essays Question 02

IGCSE Disabled by Wilfred Owen Model Essays Question 02

Edexcel English IGCSE: Disabled by Wilfred Owen

Q2. How does the writer try to make the reader feel sorry for the disabled soldier?

In your answer, consider:

  • the soldier’s life now compared to his past;
  • his experience of the war;
  • the use of language.

You should refer closely to the text to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

The soldier in ‘Disabled’ evokes the reader’s pity because of the tragic contrasts between his life before and after the war. These contrasts were caused by a devastating injury during the war.

The soldier’s life before the war is described as happy and carefree, which makes his current situation all the more poignant. With beautiful imagery, Owen describes how the town used to appear to the soldier: “glow-lamps budded in the light-blue trees”. These soft, pleasurable colours contrast the “ghastly suit of grey” which he now wears; the alliteration in this description highlights his disgust. Owen also highlights the contrast in his appearance: just a year ago, he looked “younger than his youth”, but “now, he is old”. The repetition in the former phrase creates a sense of enthusiasm, which contrasts with the tired finality of the latter. By highlighting the difference in the soldier’s quality of life, Owen prompts the reader to pity the soldier.

The soldier’s experience of war provokes further sympathy. There is cruel irony in the fact that he was really too young to to join the army. The officials were “smiling” when they accepted him, which angers the reader, as they clearly didn’t care about the soldiers. There is also a graphic description of the soldier’s injury. The description “leap of purple spurted from his thigh” creates a vivid image of the injury, and encourages the reader to imagine the pain experienced by the soldier. Owen also shows that the injury drastically shortened the soldier’s life: “half his lifetime lapsed”. The alliteration in this phrase causes the reader to linger and reflect on the idea that the soldier’s life was wasting away. Through these images of pain and wasting youth, Owen encourages the reader to sympathise with the soldier.

The way that the soldier is treated makes the reader pity the soldier and also angry on his behalf. During the narration of the poem, the soldier is sitting outside in the cold. He wants to come inside, but is ignored, leading him to ask the repeated plaintive question, “Why don’t they come?”. This highlights his lack of independence, since he has to wait for assistance just to go indoors. However, it also reflects his loneliness and helplessness on a larger scale; since his injury, there has been no mention of the friends with whom he used to socialise, suggesting that he has been abandoned by all of society. This is shameful, considering that he sacrificed his health and youth out of a sense of duty to his country.

The soldier’s life and future has been changed for the worse, through a traumatic experience which he should never have endured. This tragic set of circumstances cause sympathy in the reader.

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IGCSE Disabled by Wilfred Owen Model Essays Question 05

IGCSE Disabled by Wilfred Owen Model Essays Question 05

Edexcel English IGCSE: Disabled by Wilfred Owen

Q5. Analyse the soldier’s attitudes towards the war and his injury.

You should refer closely to the poem to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

The soldier feels bitter towards the war and his injury, because of the resulting changes to his life. He also questions his reasons for joining the army.

This poem includes reflection on various parts of the soldier’s life which have changed for the worse since his injury. One poignant change is in his relationship with women. The sibilance and alliteration in his memories of women create a tone of sensual longing: “how slim girls’ waists are” and “how warm their subtle hands”. This gentle reflection contrasts with the bitter tone in the simile: they “touch him like some queer disease”, implying that women are now disgusted by him, and that he is only touched b nurses, who treat him like a medical subject. This is just one of several bitter reflections on how the war and his injury changed his life and future prospects.

The soldier also reflects resentfully on how he made such a life-changing decision. The short and alliterative sentence, “He wonders why,” shows his cynicism about his original reasons for joining the army. It is clear that the decision was not careful or considered: it was largely to please other people, including his girlfriend and someone who joked that he’d look good in the uniform. A more general sense of obligation is expressed in the line, “He thought he’d better join”. He also states that he “scarcely thought of” the reasons that the country went to war in the first place; he was not interested in Germany or Austria. The soldier feels that he did not come to an informed and independent decision about whether to join up, but was too easily influenced by the expectations of others.

A sense of anger is expressed when the soldier considers how unprepared he was for the experience of war. He had a romantic image of how war would be, as shown by the description of the superficial aspects of being in the army: “jewelled hilts”, “daggers in plaid socks” and “smart salutes”. This list creates a tone of disbelief that he could have been so deceived by the appearances of war. He admits that he was not ready for how frightened he would be: “no fears / Of Fear came yet”. Putting “Fear” with a capital letter shows how terrible and pervasive it is. This description movingly shows the many layers of fear experienced by a soldier; not only do you have to be afraid of death, but you are also afraid of dealing with this fear.

The soldier was unprepared for the war, and signed up for the wrong reasons. The result was a terrible injury which turned him from an optimistic youth to a bitter man, old before his time.

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IGCSE Disabled by Wilfred Owen Model Essays Question 04

IGCSE Disabled by Wilfred Owen Model Essays Question 04

Edexcel English IGCSE: Disabled by Wilfred Owen

Q4. How does the writer bring out the contrasts between the soldier’s life before and after the war?

In your answer, you should consider:

  • the soldier’s current situation;
  • the soldier’s life before the war;
  • any interesting use of language.

You should refer closely to the poem to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Wilfred Owen uses contrasts between the soldier’s life before and after the war to show the terrible effects of the war: in the soldier’s appearance, his experience of women, and his future prospects.

Now that he has lost his arms and legs, the soldier reflects on his strength and youthful appearance before his injury in the war. One stark contrast is that between his previous youth and how old he now feels and looks. Before, his face was “younger than his youth”, showing that he looked even younger than his age. The repetition of words denoting youth creates an even stronger contrast with the short, bitter statement on the following line: “Now, he is old”. Previously a football player, the soldier is now in contrast with the “strong men that were whole”. This shows that he considers himself to be broken, or to be only part of a man.

Owen highlights the changes since the war through the soldier’s relationships with women. Before the war, he had a girlfriend called “Meg”: one of his motivations for joining the army. Ironically, although he joined the army to impress a girl, his experience in the war now makes him repulsive to women. There is sensual longing in the description of “how slim girls’ waists are” and “how warm their subtle hands”, as the soldier remembers how women used to act. Now, however, they “touch him like some queer disease”. This medicalised simile suggests that women are disgusted by him, as if his injury could be somehow contagious. It also implies that the only women who touch him now are nurses, who treat men as medical subjects, rather than sexual beings.

One poignant contrast between his past and present situation is the soldier’s sense of his future. Before the war, the soldier did not give much thought to his future, as evidenced by his flippant reasons for going to war. Now, however, he has no real control over his life, and he must be the passive receiver of help and pity: “Now, he will spend a few sick years in Institutes”. Throughout the poem, the word “now” acts as a frequent reminder of the contrasts between the past and the present, bringing the soldier from his memories of the past back to his current misery. Owen provides a direct contrast between the way that “crowds cheered Goal” when he used to play football, and how some people “cheered him home”. Whilst he used to be praised and celebrated, now he is an embarrassment: an object for pity and charity rather than admiration.

The disabled soldier’s injury clearly ruins his life. He has now lost his health and youth, and the prospect of an independent life with a wife and family.

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IGCSE Disabled by Wilfred Owen Model Essays Question 03

IGCSE Disabled by Wilfred Owen Model Essays Question 03

Edexcel English IGCSE: Disabled by Wilfred Owen

Q3. How does the writer use the disabled soldier to show his opinions of the First World War?

In your answer, you should think about:

  • the soldier’s reasons for going to war;
  • the soldier’s experience of war;
  • the soldier’s current situation;
  • the use of language.

You should refer closely to the poem to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Wilfred Owen, himself a soldier in the First World War, uses this poem to express his disapproval of the war. The soldier’s experience of joining the army, the war itself and his current situation are all evidence of Owen’s disgust at the treatment of soldiers.

The reasons that the soldier gives for joining the army show that Owen believed that young men were not sufficiently informed about the potentially life-changing impact of their decision. The disabled soldier joined the army flippantly, for superficial reasons such as “to please his Meg”. The line “he didn’t have to beg” subtly implies that the army were desperate for recruits, since they accepted him even though he was under-age. They were even “smiling” as they wrote his fake age, which gains gruesome irony when we consider his current horrendous situation. It implies that the recruiting officers did not care about the young men joining the army.

Owen uses this poem to portray the gruesome reality of war. The soldier’s injury is described in graphic detail, causing disgust in the reader. The image, “leap of purple spurted from his thigh” is vivid; the use of colour allows the reader to visualise the injury. Owen also emphasises the life-threatening nature of the injury with “half his lifetime lapsed”; the alliteration of ‘h’ and ‘l’ draws attention to this line, forcing the reader to linger on the idea that the soldier’s youth was wasting away. By using such sympathy-inducing images, Owen shows his view that the war was a terrible thing for young people to experience.

Perhaps most poignant is the soldier’s terrible current situation. Owen uses contrasts to emphasise the differences between the soldier’s life before and after the war. For example, to contrast with his youthful looks before the war, Owen uses a blunt, simple statement to say that “Now, he is old”. This simplicity creates a tone of anger and bitterness, because the war has robbed him of his youth and beauty. Owen also disapproves of the way that soldiers were treated after the war. The soldier becomes a passive receiver of help, and must “take whatever pity they may dole”, showing that he receives sympathy and charity, rather than the admiration and gratefulness that he deserves for sacrificing his youth in defending his country. The poem ends with a sad, repeated question, “Why don’t they come?” This moving plea shows that the soldier is now lonely and helpless. It creates a plaintive, regretful tone.

In this poem, Owen criticises the way that soldiers were recruited, and of how they were then treated once they returned to their home country. Owen himself died before the end of the war. He met a fate worse than that of the disabled soldier: death.

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IGCSE Disabled by Wilfred Owen Model Essays Question 01

IGCSE Disabled by Wilfred Owen Model Essays Question 01

Edexcel English IGCSE: Disabled by Wilfred Owen

Q1. How does the writer try to bring out the thoughts and feelings of the disabled soldier in Disabled?

In your answer, you should write about:

  • the comparison between the soldier’s past and his present situation;
  • his experiences with women;
  • his reasons for becoming a soldier;
  • any other interesting use of language.

You should refer closely to the poem to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

In ‘Disabled’, the soldier reflects bitterly the changes in his life since the war: namely changes to his body and in his experiences with women. The devastating impact of the war is made more sad by the flippant reasons that he had for going to war.

The soldier reflects the differences between his past and his current situation. One of the most striking changes is his physical appearance: he lost his limbs in the war. To describe the injury, Owen uses the unusual phrase: “he threw away his knees”. This creates the impression that the injury was the soldier’s fault, as though he had deliberately got rid of his legs. This reflects the soldier’s feeling that his injury was pointless and wasteful. Owen also highlights the contrast in the soldier’s self-perceived age; although only a year has passed, he looked “younger than his youth” before, and “now, he is old”. The simple expression of the latter state reflects the soldier’s sense of finality and hopelessness for the future.

The soldier’s experiences with women has also changed for the worse. He reflects on his previous experiences: “girls glanced lovelier” and “how slim / Girls’ waists are, or how warm their subtle hands”. The alliteration, and the repetition of ‘l’ and ‘s’ sounds in these descriptions reflect the sensual nature of his memories. However, “Now, he will never feel again”; again, this creates a sense of hopelessness. In his current situation, women “touch him like some queer disease”. This simile shows that the he believes that women find him disgusting and strange. The medicalization of his body in this image probably reflects the fact that he is only touched by nurses for medical reasons, no longer for pleasure.

After portraying the soldier’s thoughts and feelings about his current state, Owen reveals to the reader the superficial and flippant reasons that the soldier had for ‘joining up’. Rather than wanting to fight for his country and freedom, he “thought he’d better join”, suggesting a sense of obligation. The colloquial language in this line suggests that it was not a serious decision. When describing his feelings at joining the army, the soldier emphasises the romantic and attractive side of war, with a focus on superficial appearances: “jewelled hilts”, “daggers in plaid socks” and “smart salutes”. This naivety is all the more poignant now because we are now aware of the great losses that he has suffered as a result of his foolish decision.

When the soldier signed up to join the war, he could never have imagined the terrible implications of his decision. Through the soldier’s regretful and bitter thoughts and feelings, Owen portrays the loss of a generation’s youth, innocence and future.

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