The Man He Killed

by Thomas Hardy

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What is a short summary of "The Man He Killed" by Thomas Hardy?

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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.

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