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'Strange Meeting' by Wilfred Owen - Questions and answers.

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Introduction

Vanessa Arellano arellav@students.markham.edu.pe Wednesday, 07th March 2004 'Strange Meeting' Wilfred Owen 1. What is unusual about the poem's subject matter? How does it differ from the other war poems you have already read? In Strange meeting, there is an uncertainty of what is really going on. For some, it seems that the poetic voice is in a coma-like dream, where fantasy mixes with past memories of war reality. For other, it seems that this soldier is dead and that he meets in hell with one of the soldiers he has killed during war. The unusual subject matter arises from the dreamlike or death sensation, which is achieved from the beginning when the poetic voice explains that it "seemed" that out of battle he "escaped". Here, "seemed," adds mystery to the poem, which contributes in making it different from other war poems we have read, which unlike this one, are very straightforward. 2. Where exactly does the poem take place? How does the setting affect its tone and meaning? The poetic voice seems to be remembering what he either dreamed or experience after dying. Therefore, we might say that the poem takes place in the memory of the poetic voice. ...read more.

Middle

4. What does the dead man mean when he refers to "the wildest beauty in the world"? The man means that he went, not forced, to war without knowing how war was really like. This suggests the idea that men were lay, and that they were told that fighting in war was a honourable thing to do. "Wildest" suggests that death was inevitable for those who went to war, as they were not really prepared for its cruelty. Overall, it seems to describe how war is the shortest way in the world, to ensure death. 5. What had been the ideals, abilities and ambitions of the man killed yesterday? What about the narrator of the poem? These soldiers were tricked to fight in war. They were told war was much different than reality and thus, these soldiers wanted to transmit the "pity of war" and reveal "the truth untold" through words. However they are not able to do so now as they are death, and they are hopeless as they won't be able to express themselves and explain how war is really like. 6. What does the dead man mean by "the pity of war"? ...read more.

Conclusion

9. Who has the last word, and why is this important? Why had the dead man not fought to the death? Does this make a correction to the notion of valour in battle? The soldier, who "sprang up" from the dead bodies pile, is who has the last word. This is important because it explains that the soldier knew that the man, whom he was talking to, killed him. War was long and seemed to never-end, he might have been tired and week by the time he fought with this other soldier. Additionally, this changes the notion of valour in battle. It seems that it was no longer a matter of courage, but a matter of wisdom. The wiser one would prefer to die and rest while the brave one will keep on fighting and suffering. Consequently courage becomes in masochism to some extent. 10. Is the final tone one of forgiveness / peace / reconciliation? Does the poem achieve closure? The end does have a tone of forgiveness and reconciliation as one of the dead soldiers explains to the other one that he is the "enemy" killed and calls "friend" to his 'murderer'. Further more, this soldier decides to leave the past in the past when he suggests to "sleep now..." The poem however doesn't achieve closure due to the suspension dots, which suggests that something might happen afterwards. ...read more.

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