Brevity of Life
Robert Frost’s poem “Out Out-” is a narrative that presents readers with a tale of a young boy’s life cut tragically short. The title of the poem, “Out Out-,” is what first alerts readers to the serious tone. The title, taken from a line in the Shakespearean play, foreshadows the death about to occur. Macbeth speaks a line after hearing of his wife’s death, comparing Lady Macbeth's death to a candle blown out, he says “Out, out, brief candle” (Kennedy and Gioia 417). The speaker tells the story in a somber and serious tone, almost as though he is a close observer of the events. The serene scene of the poem is set in Vermont at sunset, where a boy is cutting wood with a “buzz-saw” (1). When the boy’s sister announces “[s]upper” (14), excited that his work is over, the boy drops the “buzz-saw” (1) and accidently severs his hand. This proves to be a mortal wound, and the boy dies. In this poem, Frost utilizes imagery and personification to tell a tale of how life is unpredictable and fleeting. Frost drapes the poem, “Out Out-,” with vivid images that are both innocent and perilous to create the somber tone. Frost uses imagery to depict ferocity, as if he was trying to foreshadow the saw's role in the poem, “[t]he buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard” (1). A boy is sawing wood, “[s]weet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it” (3), in the serene setting, that is sunset in Vermont. The speaker tells readers that the boy may be too young for this type of work, “big boy, [d]oing a man’s work” (23). Excited when his sister calls “[s]upper” (14), the boy drops the saw, but severs his hand at the same time. The speaker uses suspense to describe what happens with words such as the saw "[l]eaped out of the boy's hand"(16), and his “first outcry was a rueful laugh"(19). This provides readers a clear statement on the frailty of life. Frost gives his readers an image of the boy feeling pain by using forceful words such as...
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