In “Break of Day in the Trenches,” why does the speaker compare his condition to an animal that also resides in the trenches. What is the animal?

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The speaker in Break of Day in the Trenches compares his life to that of a rat he encounters on the battlefield. The rat, he seems to suggest, has a better view of what humanity ought to be than the soldiers do themselves. He interprets the rat's look as mocking humanity and the subsequent destruction and murder of one another. The rat does not draw a distinction between Englishmen and Germans. It sees them both as sharing the same humanity. The rat can also travel freely and safely between the trenches, something that the soldiers cannot do. Isaac Rosenburg is suggesting with his poem that the war, with its privations and horrors, has reduced the men who fight it to a status lower than that of rats. The roles of rat and human have been reversed. Humans typically look on rats with scorn and derision. In this instance, however, the speaker imagines that the rat, sensing this irony, realizes that it is better off than these men in the trenches.

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