Stanza-Wise Summary Of The Man He Killed

Hi Everyone!! This article will share the Stanza-Wise Summary Of The Man He Killed.

The poem is written by Thomas Hardy in 1902 at the time of the Second Boer War fought between the British and the Dutch settlers of the Boer republics. Their aim was to strengthen the British Empire. This poem deals with the pointlessness of war and narrates the thoughts of a soldier who has just returned from the war. The soldier had the idea that the man he killed in battle probably had a lot in common with him. Now, let’s the stanza-wise summary. In one of my previous posts, I have also shared the stanza-wise summary of the poem – The Inchcape Rock so, you can check that post as well.

Stanza-Wise Summary Of The Man He Killed

Stanza – 1

”Had he………………………a nipperkin!

The speaker begins by talking about an unnamed man. By the title of the poem ‘The Man He Killed’ the readers can assume that he is talking about the man whom he has killed. The readers can easily picturize two men meeting up by chance and sitting down for a drink together. The speaker is saying that if he had met that unnamed man under normal circumstances, rather than on the battlefield, at places such as an inn or bar, they probably would have shared drinks many times and would have had an impressive old time. Nipperkin in the last line refers to a liquor vessel or container having a capacity of a half pint or less.

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Stanza – 2

“But ranged………………………his place.”

In the stanza, we finally become aware of that unnamed man. He was a soldier and both the speaker and this unnamed soldier were on the opposing sides of a war. The word ‘But’ in the first line brings the reader back into the reality where the speaker locates himself and the other soldier on the battlefield. The words ‘ranged and ‘infantry’ clearly tell us that both these men have the lowest ranking in the army and are lined up in ranks by their superiors for the battle in a way that they could look right at each other. The speaker describes how both of them shot at each other at the same time but it was the soldier from the opposing side who succumbs to the bullet which means the speaker shot his opponent down.

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Stanza-Wise Summary Of The Man He Killed

Stanza – 3

“I shot………………………….enough; although.”

In this stanza of the poem ‘The Man He Killed’, the speaker says that he killed the other man because he was his enemy but the break in the first line indicates the speaker’s hesitation and doubt about his action. The repeated use of ‘because’ indicates that the speaker is trying to come up with a reason or an explanation for why he killed the other man. It appears that the speaker is not really comfortable with what he has done and so is trying to convince himself that he has done the right action by shooting the man as he was his foe. The word ‘although’ indicates that the speaker wants to consider all possibilities rather than settling for his unconvincing justification.

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Stanza – 4

“He thought………………………..reason why”.

In this stanza, the poet says that he had enrolled himself in the army just like that without too much thinking. Similarly, he feels that the soldier he shot could have joined the enemy army maybe because he was out of work, maybe he was in real need of money or just like that. This stanza shows that killing, injuring or fighting were not there in the minds of both these men and the speaker didn’t go for a war with a desire to kill the man. However, he has now killed the man and is not able to explain this to himself why he has done it.

Stanza – 5

“Yes; quaint…………………………….half-a-crown.”

In this stanza, the speaker talks about the pointlessness of the war and its effect on the people who fight. The speaker calls war quaint and curious because it changes you as a person. The same fellow whom you would have otherwise befriended, offered a drink or loan money to becomes your enemy on the battlefield.

So, this was the stanza-wise summary of The Man He Killed.