Thomas Hardy Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

I need a really short summary to "The Man He Killed" by Thomas Hardy 4-5 sentences at the most.

Expert Answers info

S.L. Watson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write580 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

In the poem "The Man He Killed," by Thomas Hardy, the speaker speculates about the nature of war. Hardy also explores the role of the enemy. This poem was written in the time of the second Boer War.

In the first stanza, the unnamed, first-person narrator says that if he had met the man standing before him at an inn, they could have shared a drink. However, he shoots the man in the second stanza because it is his job; they are at war, and both are infantry. The third stanza reveals the reason the narrator killed the other man; he was his "foe." The speaker ends in stanza four and five by contemplating the ironic nature of war—that is, you go to war for employment, then you are ordered to kill a person who could have been your friend.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial



tisjay | Student

The narrative voice is that of a soldier who has killed a man in a war, in which, they were fighting on two opposing sides. He has nothing against the man he shot dead; and does not seem to know the reason for the war. He speculates that the man he killed might have been just like himself and may have enlisted because he had nothing better to do and needed some money. He comments on the irony of war which he calls "quaint and curious", because in any other context, he and the man he killed might have become friends.