Reading response “Suicide in the Trenches” by Siegfried Sassoon

Poem title: Suicide in the trenches

Siegfried Sassoon, in the poem “Suicide in the trenches” describes the death of a soldier who killed himself. He first describes the situation he is in(“In winter trenches, cowed and glum,  With crumps and lice and lack of rum,”) , then how he died(“He put a bullet through his brain.”) , before proceeding onto a message for the reader(“You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you’ll never know The hell where youth and laughter go.”)

This message is simple enough: War caused at least one person to get to the point where they saw no reason to live anymore. No one should ever have to face that kind of existence, and yet, instead of trying to help these people,  the people are merely cheering them on. So of course, this poem is trying to convince people that not going to war would be best, or your life will soon having no meaning, and so be in hell.

This poem taught me that there are many different kinds of people out there. Some who don’t want to live, and so kill themselves. And those who watch on, knowing what happened, but not wanting to discuss it. And with this I realised: There are many different situations out there that people could end up in, but in general, people are always similar; there is always going to be that one person who doesn’t want to live on, but tries to find a reason. But if a war happens, well, what reason could there be? From this lesson I realised that I really don’t want to go to war, for the very fact that I am probably that one person.

The reason for this is that I can understand at least a bit of the mindset that ‘soldier boy’ has. That is, the ideas of “Who grinned at life in empty joy, Slept soundly through the lonesome dark, And whistled early with the lark.” And I guess that the war was just a final tipping point for the person. I mean, how are you supposed to keep yourself alive when you struggle to enjoy and find meaning in life; Particularly when a war is going on around you. The tipping point I am talking about is that the war caused him to lose all reason for continued existence. He was quite possibly already close to this point before the war, for instance that there where only about one or two reasons for life, and that war closed them off from him. Perhaps they where family and friends. Or maybe it was a belief that the future will be a good one. It could even be he actually enjoyed life normally, and had something to do in it he found enjoyable. Maybe even a few things that he finds fun to do. But in any case, a war like the second world war would never allow something like those things to continue on existing. No family; no future but an endless war; nothing that could be fun. What reason could there possibly be when that sort of mindset is used. That mindset which would convince others that everything is fine; even themselves; by grinning without reason; always being alone, and then looking at the morning like you might as well do something with it. That is most likely the mindset this kid has, and I can definitely understand it since I have it.

Really, I’m just lucky that I’m not in a war, and still have some reasons to exist. But that doesn’t change my mindset at all. For instance: I don’t really enjoy life at all, instead, most of the time I just pretend to. I mean sure, there’s happiness, but never for long. And excitement, that’s something I remember feeling thrice in living memory(I lied all the other times I said I was excited). Then there is loneliness. I have one friend, A great friend, sure, but still only one. Oh, and family? My views on my family is that they are all more amazing than me, by one really large degree. How could I not be lonely around them, when I view myself as the only loser amongst winners. And the morning; great time, really. I do enjoy the morning, more than any other time of day(besides when waking up, sleeping is better), as the air is cold, the sun is just shining, and there is only bird chatter. Unfortunately, I don’t really do much at all, so the morning means nothing else but a good atmosphere to me compared to the rest of the day.

Then what about things I enjoy? What reason do I have to live? Well, I love my family, and would do nearly anything for them. I don’t want to lose any friends, and being with them makes me happy. I also believe that a good future for myself is possible, although improbable. Then there are the things I enjoy: there are books(Love those, they let me feel emotions normally! Well, for a few minutes anyway), Food(Tasty, with a hint of satisfaction that my stomach is full), and walking(Who doesn’t like some exercise in their life!). So yeah, there are reasons for my life and continued existence.

Simply put: That kid and myself have similar thoughts about our reasons to live. He just had said reasons taken away from him by the war, which is why I’m lucky. I still have some reasons, and no one is taking them away from me.

This poem also got me thinking about the state the human species is always in. That is, there are always those few people who are getting quite close to death, because they keep on running out of reasons to live. And as the reason “Live because that is the purpose of existence”, well, that just doesn’t cut it. As there are going to be many people out there who think like this, doesn’t that mean that a large portion of humanity is under threat? And if a few of these people die, no one will talk about it, like the people in the poem “No one spoke of him again.” But what if the world goes into another war? How can these people live on when the war takes away a person’s reason to live? Doesn’t this mean that a large portion of humanity will die, leaving the world in a really bad state?

The poem “Suicide in the trenches”, by Siegfried Sassoon, describes the suicide of one person.  And what I did after that was analyze and explain some of the many thoughts and reasons for this poem, and what it means for the world. I went into some depth of a possible state of mind of the person who died, and linked it to myself. And then I talked about how this state of mind could affect the world. Then I stated some questions to make all you readers think a bit more into the situation this world is in. The conclusion we reached was that humanity is in a pretty bad state, as people continue to lose reasons to stay alive. But as long as we don’t enter into another world war, it shouldn’t be too bad. 


  1. Logan, I appreciate the personal analysis that you have included in this response. However, I believe that additional specific evidence from the poem itself would assist to support your points here. Make sure that your analysis includes sufficient, specific references from the text 🙂


    1. Yes, I agree with you. I didn’t really connect the quotes up properly, which will make it more difficult to understand the meaning behind my words. However, it has been a while since then, and my own mindset has changed. Basically, I can’t remember the intent behind my words, and reading over this report isn’t enough to remind me. I’ll try to edit it and connect up all the quotes, but I don’t want to damage my original text in any way, so I might take a while to edit this.


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