What is the theme of the poem "Disabled"?

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jeffclark | College Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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In Owens' work "Disabled" the recurring theme seems to be two-fold: Loss and Disillusionment.

When he was young he looked at the world as a young man always does - unrealistically. The attitude he has is the embodiment of what Psychology calls "The Personal Fable" by which all young people live by, which says, "We will live forever, and the whole world revolves around us."

He thinks of war as glorious and exciting. The assumption is there that the uniform and all that it represents will impress all who see it, especially young ladies. And that it does at first, before any shots have been fired or wounds suffered. Even artists want to paint his portrait - before.

But once he returns for real battle, wounded and fatigued, everything has change. Ironically, when he "deserves" attention and admiration that is the farthest thing from people's minds. They flee his presence. They resent the feelings the sight of him evokes.

So he sits in his chair, having lost such a great portion of himself and disillusioned at how the would should have treated him.