How is pathos is created through imagery in "Disabled" by Wilfred Owen and "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin?

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This sounds like an interesting assignment! Enotes policy is that educators are only able to answer one question per post—we don't want to do your homework for you—so, as these two works are unrelated, I will unpack the question for you and show you how to approach Owen's "Disabled ...

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This sounds like an interesting assignment! Enotes policy is that educators are only able to answer one question per post—we don't want to do your homework for you—so, as these two works are unrelated, I will unpack the question for you and show you how to approach Owen's "Disabled." This should then give you a good idea of where to start on giving "The Story of an Hour" the same treatment.

First of all: what is the question asking for? "How" is a key word here, as is "pathos." In looking at how a writer achieves an effect, we might want to consider language choices, themes, literary devices, imagery, and so on. Here, the question guides you to explore the imagery in the work in particular, which gives some idea of where to focus.

The effect we're interested in here is pathos, which is defined as "a quality that evokes pity or sadness." So, how does Owen evoke pity and sadness in his audience through his use of descriptive or figurative language and vivid images?

The imagery in the poem is certainly very marked from the beginning. The opening image is of a man described only as "he"—which has the immediate effect of making him a symbolic representation of many soldiers; "he" could be anyone. He "sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark," a picture which evokes pathos twofold in that it tells us at once that the man is the "disabled" person to which the title refers, and also because "waiting for dark" seems an unusual thing for someone to do. Darkness is normally equated with the sinister, the absence of light, but for this man, it is clearly a relief, which evokes pity and curiosity in the reader. All is not as it should be with this man. It soon becomes clear why, as Owen states, with cutting abruptness, that his suit was "legless, sewn short at the elbow." The lack of elaboration here forces the reader to picture vividly the limbless man in the chair.

There are subtle cues in this first stanza which suggest that life is, to this boy, barely living. The phrase "voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn" evokes thoughts of funerals, before we spot the shocking truth in the juxtaposed line, "voices of play and pleasure." The anaphora here forces us to view these lines as a pair, and then we realize that it is the sound of the boys' happiness which is saddening to the man in the chair. He is waiting for night so that he no longer has to hear the world going on without him.

In the second stanza of the poem, Owen offers the reader a view of an altogether different young man who remembers how "Town used to swing so gay." Evidently, we are in the man's memory, seeing how "girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim." The imagery here is wistful, soft; note the consonance on "l" which adds a romantic sound—"glow-lamps," "girls glanced lovelier." But this was a time long ago: Owen juxtaposes the memories brutally with the statement that this was "before he threw away his knees." The choice of words here, "threw away," makes it clear that the man does not see what he has done as a worthy sacrifice. On the contrary, he seems to feel that he has wasted his youth and his bodily integrity. Now, he can no longer feel "how slim girls' waists are," because "all of them touch him like some queer disease." Most saddening of all to the reader, the man in the chair does not even have any consolation in his misery, because, far from receiving thanks from the young women whose touch he longs for, they touch him as if he is burdened with "some queer disease."

The man's youth is not mentioned until the third stanza, but when Owen reveals that this is, indeed, a young man, he does so in the same breath as the statement that he is now "old." His face "was younger than his youth, last year." The difference between the boy who "used to swing so gay," we realize, and the man in the chair, has been only twelve months. Worse still, we discover that he was eager enough to join the army that he lied about his age: "Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years."

Once upon a time, the man "liked a blood-smear down his leg," when, as a football player, he was "carried shoulder-high." The image here is of a vigorous, energetic young man, the sort who "thought he'd better join" because "someone had said he'd look a god in kilts." The reasoning is flimsy, as we might expect of a very young man who has been "lied" to by those who should have known better. Worst of all, the man, who can barely remember why he joined the army, thinks it may partly have been "to please his Meg"—and yet, as we have already been told, girls now see him as having "some queer disease." There is no gratitude for him from Meg, whoever she was. The tragic waste of it all is emphasized as Owen enumerates the bombastic trappings of soldierhood—"daggers in plaid socks," "smart salutes," "drums and cheers"—contrasted now to the reality of the man in the chair.

The final stanza of the poem sets out, with pathetic simplicity, how the rest of the man's life will necessarily go: "he will spend a few sick years in institutes / And do what things the rules consider wise." He is the opposite of "the strong men that [are] whole," a figure who must "take whatever pity they may dole." The final two lines of the poem emphasize the helplessness and hopelessness of the man's situation, as he repeats to himself: "Why don't they come?" He is entirely dependent on others to do everything for him; he is waiting for dark, because he can see no light. All he has left are questions, to which there are no answers.

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