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Commentary: 'Out Out' by Robert Frost

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Introduction

Commentary on Robert Frost's 'Out Out' 'Out Out' is a poem that tells the story of a young boy cutting his hand off while chopping wood and then dies, and how those around him cope with the death. This poem shows many techniques which are quite common in Frost's poems; such as imagery, ambiguity and it also has a universal theme to it. This poem can be perceived to have several themes, one of which may be the lives of those living in rural areas and how they have to get on with their lives when they have lost someone close, because there is nothing else they can do. Another theme to the poem could be that of child labour in rural areas, and although the poem is set in Vermont, this is a universal theme, as child labour is known to exist all over the world. The first line of the poem, 'The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard' does many things for the poem. For a start, the line sounds quite threatening to us and immediately we think that the saw will later become a problem or an issue. The line also personifies the saw, which further makes us believe that the saw will later play a major role in the poem. ...read more.

Middle

This line shows more regret and it is at this point that we realise that the poem involves a young boy and this saddens and worries the reader even more. The line also subtly suggests that if it was 'called a day' then perhaps the incident with the saw would not have happened. In line 14, the boy's sister comes to him to tell him that it is time for dinner. At this point we are slightly relieved, as the word 'supper' which is used in the line, relates to normality and we all feel safe in the domesticity and regularity of our own home and therefore, we think that perhaps what we had predicted to happen would not come true. Frost, again personifies the saw in lines 15 and 16, 'At the word, the saw, as if to prove saws knew what supper meant...' Again, Frost makes us fear the worst, and in the next line our fears come true, 'Leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap- He must have given the hand'. In the last phrase of this line, Frost has used irony; when someone gives their hand it usually means they are greeting someone or making an agreement on something. Frost words it in such a way as if he is suggesting that the boy welcomed the saw. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, some would say that the anti-climax was right at the end of the poem: 'And they, since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs'. Here, we would expect the family to grieve and not be able to carry on the way they used, because that is how we would expect people to react in today's world. The reaction that the boy's family has showed is that of stoicism and in today's world, even if we do not realise it, examples of stoicism are common. Throughout the poem, we can see many of Frost's common techniques that he uses in many poems. For example, in line 6 he uses ambiguity with the word 'sunset' which was mentioned earlier on in this commentary. Many of Frost's poems are in a conversational tone such as 'Mending Wall', 'Home Burial' and 'After Apple-Picking'. To make the poem more conversational in 'Out Out', Frost has used words such as 'so', so as to make it seem like a live conversation. It could also have been used a gap-filler in the poem. Overall, I think that 'Out Out' is a poem to represent the sadness and grief that families have to go through when they lose someone close and how they have to carry on with their lives just because there is nothing else they can do. It is the harsh truth of losing someone close to you, someone you love. ?? ?? ?? ?? 9/13/2007 IB1 ...read more.

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