Owen questioned the existence of religion through different ways in both poem. In Anthem for Doomed Youth, he used war related images to replace what a normal funeral would have which in contrast shows the absence of religion. For Futility, he questioned the existence of God when it is needed. Both expression suggests he was not a follower of religion instead he has a strong point of view on it. His view on religion could be impacted by the despair that was caused by war.
The tone of the first stanza in Futility was very gentle. The image of the sun suggests light, warmth, hope and even god himself. Owen personified the sun as old and kind adding warmth to the tone. The warm tone of the first four lines of the poem suggests he once had faith in religion even in France which could be a reference to war. Until the soldier was killed on this morning and this snow. The word morning sounds like mourning creating a sad imagery and snow which suggests the cold, the opposite of warmth, the devil. Although the soldiers life was already taken he still had faith in god, he believed there might be a possibility that the sun, the god could bring life from dead again.
Moving on the second stanza, the change of tone is very obvious. This is suggested through the demanding word think. The harsh k sound conveys the frustration and desperation the poet has for god. Seeds suggests growth and clays of the cold star is a biblical imagery because man are made from clay, both suggests the beginning of life. If the sun is the mother of creation why cant he resurrect this soldier yet God himself rose from the dead? Yet the many stories of God healing man from all sort of diseases are given life again but not this fallen soldier whose body is still warm? Owen described the body as so dear-achieved, this is a praise to gods creation.
Why could god create such majestic mankind yet he could not bring life back to the solider? Here Owen repetitively questioned and mocked the existence of god, where is he when he is needed? Was it for this the clay grew tall this line is very important because it links to the title of the poem, Futility, what is the point of life when it ends in death, again a heavy tone of mockery is hinted through this line. Owen described the sunbeams as fatuous again the pointlessness of the sending warm to mankind when all they do is brutally destroy each other, indirectly calling god foolish and questioning his existence. Rhetorical questions are repetitively used to express the poets frustration, the pointlessness of life and to make the readers think.
Anthem for Doomed Youth the title is a juxtaposition as a opening to a poem full of irony. Throughout the entire poem Owen compared religious rituals to striking war imagery suggesting religion are not the saints they claim to be,instead just like war they are also covered in blood and sins.
Owen opened the poem with a rhetorical question emphasizing on the worthlessness of the lives of the soldiers. The intention of Passing-bells was to bring attention that the soul is now passing to the other world and scare the devil away from obtaining this soul yet Owen compared the bells to monstrous anger of the guns and stuttering rifles rapid rattle. The word monstrous suggests destruction,death and evilness. Alliteration was used to mimic the sound of gun fires. Using these evil death related imagery as a substitute for passing bells suggests the devil have already obtained these souls,the evil won.
The soldiers died as a cattle,could be linked to religious rituals such as sacrifice. But not sacrificing for the kind but the evil. Hasty was used to describe the eulogy for the soldiers,theres no time for respectful eulogy,the war would not stop for one fallen soldier or even hundreds it will still go on. These soldiers are just sacrifices to the bigger image since the churches at the time supported war,they believed it was rein-acting the bible,they believed these deaths were worth it because they thought it will bring them to a better place. Again the irony,churches were suppose to spread peace yet they were the one who supported violence,they supported the evil acts. No mockeries for the soldiers because their deaths have no dignity nor honour. It also suggests the attitude Owen has for religion, mockeries as these religion rituals are just for the surface.
These rituals does not make their deaths more honourable, does not take away sorrow from their family ,does not bring their lives back. The confusing comparisons Owen listed throughout the poem by substituting evil images for religious rituals makes the reader question if there is a difference between light and dark,could it be the same thing? Could the church be the devil in disguise? All these religion rituals at a funeral could be a mask for the dirty works of the devil,as a comfort for the family believing that their loved ones died honourably when their bodies was simply lined up and thrown into the underground which links to hell,going back to who they served in the war the devil.
These two poems both expressed Owens perception on religion very clearly. He questioned the existence and purpose of religion.