In both Wilfred Owen’s “Disabled” and Robert Frost’s “Out, Out” the theme of loss is carried throughout. While the boy in Frost’s poem completely loses his life, Owen’s young man loses his former way of life and is just waiting for death.
Obviously, both protagonists experience physical ability and in Frost’s case death. They both experience losses from an accident. In Frost’s poem the boy is faced with the loss of hand, an essential body part used for many daily activities, the panic hasn’t kicked in as the saw “leaps” out of the boys hand, this is an example of personification making the saw seem evil as if it was intentional to cut the boy’s hand off. The title of Owen’s poem ‘Disabled’ instantly sets the scene for the reader. After his incident, the now ex-soldier is confined to a wheelchair, by the fact he cannot wheel himself due to further injuries he perceives himself as only half a man. Now that he is an ‘incomplete’ man, women “passed from him to the strong men that were whole”, he begins to critique himself and become frustrated as all the anger from his experience as a soldier builds up. The only attention he gets is from the nurses. Society begins to only pity him. In some sense the soldier believes that the men who returned ‘whole’ and healthy are stronger and those who were injured, ‘incomplete’ are weaker.
Another example of loss is the loss of meaning. In “Out, Out” before he is put under anaesthetic, the boy pleads to his sister, “Don’t let him, sister!”. The use of the exclamation mark shows the true desperation behind his voice. However, no matter how hard the boy tries to persuade his sister to stop the doctor from cutting his hand off, it didn’t pay off and his sister doesn’t listen. By the end of the poem, the boy’s life is lost yet his sister and family just seem to turn their heads and have an unemotional reaction as if nothing has happened. On the other hand in Owen’s poem, the soldier simply loses meaning by the fact that he has become disabled. Before joining the army girls loved him yet things have changed after his accident. “Now he will never feel again how slim girl’s waists are”, this portrays how the soldier understands the consequences of his injuries, however this does not mean he agrees or is satisfied with them.
Loss of support is also portrayed throughout the poems. When he realises that his hand is destroyed, the boy of Frost’s poem perceives that “all (was) spoiled.”. At this point, the boy only believes that he will no longer be able to use his hand, which affect his future when writing and even his childhood. Instead, the others, who “were not the one dead,” “turned to their affairs” and go about their work after the boy dies just as they would if he were to live and give no sense of remorse. In “Disabled,” the now handicapped soldier hears the voices of boys that “rang saddening like a hymn,” or a song for the dead. He can no longer participate in much of life; instead, he can only listen to the “voices of play and pleasure” in which he once participated.
Freedom and innocence are lost during both the accidents for both the man and the boy. The young boy in Frost’s poem cherishes his free time, “a boy counts so much when saved from work”, however after he becomes severely injured the boy can no longer play any game and he ends up losing his life.
The soldier realises he will no longer be young,” now he is old; his back will never brace” by becoming disabled he feels crippled old man, which then ages him. By hearing her children in the playground he feels you will never have the privilege to play or even live life to any extent in his case.
The structure of “Out-Out” is one stanza construction symbolises singleness. This reflects the result of isolation and swiftness of the boy’s accident. On the other hand, Owen’s “Disabled” is divided into six stanzas with an alternating line rhyming scheme, however, this is not consistent. The speed is broken because the number of lines in each stanza is different, for example, stanza 6 is short and slow, this reflects the ‘broken’ soldier.