Tainted Arms

1332 Words6 Pages
Alfred Owen’s poem, “Arms and the Boy,” presents war and how it changes a young boy. “Arms and the Boy” is a powerful illustration of innocence versus experience. By showing how the bayonet blade possesses human traits, the blade’s symbolism is not simply an actual representation of demonstrative agency of murder. The bayonet blade’s role is to express experience, that knowledge is what corrupts the boy and thus leads him to lose his innocence. Further, while the “bullet-heads” in stanza two take over the role of experience, stanza three depicts the boy as innocent through biblical imagery that illustrate innocence as a God given characteristic. By the end, the first two stanzas contradict the last stanza since the first two encourage the boy to experience the unknown and the last stanza conveys reasons on why he cannot experience the unknown. Signifying that man made weapon imagery is what is desired and God given characteristics do not flow with manmade materials. The bayonet blade takes up the role of experience in the poem by illustrating personification. In the first line, Owen uses alliteration to amplify internal rhyme, in order to stress the bayonet as a destructive tool "bayonet-blade”. That stress gives importance to the bayonet blade, thus giving it the role of experience. It is significant that the blade is given the role of experience because it is a man made material. In return, it possesses characteristics of the unknown and curiosity. Owen further illustrates internal rhyming in line number two, to create importance to characters that have human qualities to personify bayonet blade like "keen" and "steel”. If “keen” is used as a noun, it is an Irish song that laments for the dead (OED). This is significant becaus... ... middle of paper ... ...eapon imagery is what is desired and God given characteristics do not flow with manmade materials. One might ask, but why is all of this important? It is important because Owen argues that the boy is not meant for war, or the boy could be a symbol for man which is also a symbol for all humanity, which furthers that argument. Humanity is not meant for war since that experience only brings unwanted knowledge. As the last stanza refers to many biblical images, it signifies that since God did not make it is not meant to be, it is manmade things that taint humanity into experiencing unwanted disasters such as war. God did not make those weapons it was man who did therefore, it is mans curiosity that brings upon loss of innocence and brings forth experience such as the apple in the Adam and Eve story, curiosity and constant experience of the unknown is mankind’s apple.
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