Prove something about the work you are analyzing. Select one basic idea from the work, and then find quotations in the poem that prove that what you are saying about it is correct. Find three or more quotations that support your position about the work. Make sure the ideas in the three or more body paragraphs are related in some way.


Thomas Hardy “The Man He Killed”

  • Had he and I but met
  • By some old ancient inn,
  • We should have set us down to wet
  • Right many a nipperkin!
  • But ranged as infantry,
  • 6. And staring face to face,

  • I shot at him as he at me,
  • And killed him in his place.
  • I shot him dead because—
  • 10. Because he was my foe,

    11. Just so: my foe of course he was;```

    12. That's clear enough; although

    13. He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,

    14. Off-hand like--just as I—

    15. Was out of work--had sold his traps—

    16. No other reason why.

    17. Yes; quaint and curious war is!

    18. You shoot a fellow down

    19. You'd treat, if met where any bar is,

    20. Or help to half a crown.

    Expert Answers

    An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

    A basic idea in this poem is that war is dehumanizing by causing us to kill people we would normally treat with friendly compassion. We kill these people, who are just like us, because we are told they are the enemy. However, the poem stresses the common humanity of the men who oppose one another in war.

    Three quotes that support this idea are as follows. First, the narrator says in the first few lines that if he and the man he killed had "but met / By some ancient old inn," and not on the battlefield, they would not have killed each other. Instead, they would have had drinks together:

    Wet [their tongues with] / Right many a nipperkin.

    In lines 10 and 11, the narrator says he shot the man because he was his "foe," but he then goes on in lines 13-15 to stress the commonalities he imagines he and his dead foe shared: he says the man was probably unemployed like he was and then decided to enlist:

    He thought he'd 'list, perhaps, / Off-hand like—just as I— / Was out of work

    Finally, the narrator expands the idea that he killed a man like himself for no good reason by noting that it is "curious" that in war,

    You shoot a fellow down / You'd treat, if met where any bar is, / Or help to half a crown.

    In other words, all three quotes show how war warps the ordinary human tendency of people to do good for one another.

    Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

    We’ll help your grades soar

    Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

    • 30,000+ book summaries
    • 20% study tools discount
    • Ad-free content
    • PDF downloads
    • 300,000+ answers
    • 5-star customer support
    Start your 48-Hour Free Trial