Arms and the Boy:
The poem is made up of quatrains, the tone is shown in partial rhymes, or
pararhymes which reveal the menace, the threat present in the first two
stanzas. In the last stanza, I have the impression that there's mention of
the devil "teeth, claws, antlers" I think that there is a reflection on how
God is against the idea war, as God doesnt start a war, as it is man made.
I think that the title has various meanings. One could be that it is a juxtapose, as
"Arms" and "Boy" contrast. Basically, it could mean that weapons "arms"
make the soldiers/men feel boys, as they do not wish to stay and suffer,
but rather return to their families and "hide". Maybe it could mean that
the boy is being manipulated by the weapons, as "Arms" comes first and it
is unusual for a human to be written after a weapon. It would be more
usual or frequent to say "The Boy and the Guns" or "Arms", although
"Guns" is more of a childlike term.
In the first stanza shows a child holding a bayonet, we can thus depict symbols of
war such as cruelty and death. Owen personifies the bayonet to give a greater
impact of the innocence of the child. The personification of the bayonet shows
how it is hungry for flesh, eager to draw blood, and gives a cold feeling.
- Alliteration in the first line, in order to emphasize the bayonet as a deadly
object "bayonet blade".
- There is the use of assonance in the second line, "steel" and "keen" which is a
repetition of vowels in order to show the bayonet as person again.
-Blue in the third line is an interesting word, as it has two meanings in the same
stanza. First of course there is the coldness of the blade and then the indecency f
-Third line again: simile when it says "like a madman's flash" again used to
personify the bayonet, as Owen is saying that it attacks in a burst.
-Fourth line: Alliteration with the words "famishing" and "flesh" and "for" where
we can see how the letter "F" brings out that the bayonet is hungry for flesh an
blood, alluding again to the personification.
- Through the whole stanza, we can an approximation in the rhymes of the last
word of each line, "blood" with "blade" and "flesh" with "flash".
The second stanza:
-Lines 1 and 2: There is again a personification of the bullets, which could be
portrayed as heads, which are personified in a way that they want to have
affection with the child's heart. This personification is used to damage the
innocence of the child and that he has become experienced.
-Line 1: alliteration "blind, blunt, bullet-heads"
-Third and Fourth line: Personification of the cartridges with teeth. This can be
seen "sharp with the sharpness of grief and death". In this case, sharpness of the
teeth shows the death they long to bring is fast and brief and that the grief is the
injustice and a reason to resistance.
-Line 4: repetition of "sharp" which makes an alliteration.
In this stanza there is again an approximation of rhyme the last words of each
line, with ""teeth" and "death" and "lads" and heads". This shows a recurrence of
the last consonant sounds, called a consonance.
-Shows the boy as innocent with the use of metaphors.
-First line: the word apple is used to symbolize innocence and it is a connotation
which refers to the Bible.
-Third line: Alliteration with "God" and "grow" which brings out the word God.
-Last line: There is an alliteration again with the words "through" and "thickness.
- The last three lines show the boy again as an innocent figure as he has no claws
like the Devil, nor at his feet or even horns in his head. This shows how the boy is
not a reflection of the Devil.
The stanza again has an approximate rhyme "supple" and "apple" and "curls" and
Wilfred Owen writes this poem to protest against how the generals were
desperate enough to send boys to war, and along the road, before finding death
like many of them did, their only friend will be the weapon. We can notice that
loss of innocence that the boy experiences with the words "nuzzle" and "stroke"
which reinforces the affection of the boys towards the weapons, as they are like
toys to him. Owen shows the youth that has been wasted during this horrendous
war and in a way says that the weapon is the devil, and not the boy, and that
even if he has killed, it is the weapon that has taken control of him, and that God
will see the innocence in the boy and not punish him.