Youth in The Waste Land

In Eliot’s The Waste Land, youth can be seen in several ways.  One way to interpret youth in the poem is the absence or robbery of youth from the soldiers.  Because of the things they have seen and experiences they have had, the soldiers are missing a piece of themselves.  World War I robbed them of their youth by taking from them the innocence and freedom of their childhood and replacing it with shell shock, nightmares and permanent damage to both their bodies and minds.

This can be seen throughout the poem with the different representations of shell shock and PTSD, the nervous ticks, the the repetitions, etc.  The comparison of WWI to the ancient battle at Mylae adds to this idea of missing youth by comparing themselves to warriors from centuries past.  Also, the poem refers to the dead quite often – the “lost generation”.  These men and women were not only robbed of their youth and innocence, but also their lives.  Eliot uses this missing generation to underline the theme of robbed youth of the WWI survivors.

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