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Critical analysis of "Out, Out--"

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Introduction

Critical Analysis of "Out, Out-" "Out, Out--" by Robert Frost is a poem about a young boy who dies as a result of cutting his hand using a saw. In order to give the reader a clear picture of this bizarre scenario, Frost utilizes imagery, personification, blank verse, and variation in sentence length to display various feelings and perceptions throughout the poem. Frost also makes a reference to Macbeth's speech in the play by Shakespeare called Macbeth which is somewhat parallel to the occurrences in "Out, Out-." Frost begins the poem by describing a young boy cutting some wood using a "buzz-saw." The setting is Vermont and the time is late afternoon. The sun is setting and the boy's sister calls he and the other workers to come for "Supper." As the boy hears its dinnertime, he gets excited and cuts his hand on accident. ...read more.

Middle

These verbs give the "buzz-saw" anthropomorphic qualities, and suggest that the buzz saw intended to kill the boy. "Snarled" evokes angry dogs, wolves, and other quadruped beasts. "Rattled" imports the sound of a snake giving warning that it is about to strike with venomous fangs. Both words resonate with sound and fury. We picture the falling sawdust, the stove-length sticks, the five mountain ranges and a Vermont sunset. Images of smell come with "Sweet-scented stuff" wafted by a breeze. The workaday ordinariness of the scene is reinforced by the empty understatement of line nine. "And nothing happened: day was all but done." Line ten commences with the trite imperative for cessation of labour, "Call it a day." Then the speaker asserts himself with the regretful comment, "I wish they might have said." ...read more.

Conclusion

The boy would lose his hand. But more tragically unexplainable is that while under the doctor's anaesthesia, the boy dies apparently of shock. None of those in attendance can believe it. Frost seems flippant in his concluding lines. "No more to build on there." At first the phrase seems a wry and callous reference to jobs of construction in which power saws are important. But perhaps the speaker is referring to the life, which is snuffed like an extinguished candle: the boy's heartbeat or pulse that faded "Little less nothing." Nothing can be built on nothing. . . . . And they, since they/ Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs. Frost is not suggesting that humans are heartless, as one would assume given the nature of many of Frost's poems, but he is in fact praising mankind for its ability to carry on. He is saying that those still alive have lives to lead, and that the death of the boy is not the end for his family. ...read more.

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