Compare and Contrast Poem and Short Story

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Introduction to Literature
A Similar Journey
February 2011

There are many people who travel a distance in life to find the path they should take or to remember the path they once took. In the poem “The Path Not Taken,” by Robert Frost and the short story "I Used to Live Here Once" by Jean Rhys there are many similarities and differences. The authors’ use of describing a path helps them personify life’s journeys and self-reflection. Robert Frost uses imagery to describe two different journeys in life that could have been taken. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth.” As Frost writes in this first paragraph, he expresses the two journeys as a road diverged in a yellow wood. He is only one person so he could not travel both paths, but he did look and think ahead as far as he could in order to choose the path he wanted to take. After a certain point he could not tell the outcome of either path. Jean Rhys uses imagery as well to describe her journey and the difficult challenge it was to cross over. In the first paragraph “She was standing by the river looking at the stepping stones and remembering each one. There was the round unsteady stone, the pointed one, the flat one in the middle the safe stone where you could stand and look around. The next wasn't so safe for when the river was full the water flowed over it and even when it showed dry it was slippery. But after that it was easy and soon she was standing on the other side.” Rhys used this description of the stones to explain how hard it has been to cross the river but it really wasn’t the river, it reveals itself later on. Frost continues to use imagery and tone to express the next step on his journeys path. When he writes “Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear: Through as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,” he is explaining he took the path that many have not taken. Even though some before him have, it has been a long time since they have and this called to him. It was longing for him to take this way. The tone expressed in this part is very deep and thought through because at this point is when he had to decided which way he wanted to go. Rhys uses a road in her next paragraph as well. This is also very descriptive and shows she has been here once before. “The road was much wider than it used to be but the work had been done carelessly. The felled trees had not been cleared away and the bushes looked trampled. Yet it was the same road and she walked along feeling extraordinarily happy.” This road that she is walking down is very familiar because she has walked this road many times before. Rhys uses the word “same” to express this is the very same path, just a few trees and the road is not as clear as it once was. She continues to express the words over and over again “It was a fine day, a blue day. The only thing was that the sky had a glassy look that she didn't remember. That was the only word she could think of, Glassy. She turned the corner, saw that what had been the old pave had been taken up, and there too the road was much wider, but it had the same unfinished look.” It was different but still the “same,” she did not see it as she once did long ago. She also used the word “Glassy,” since this was meant more than just a look. This is also later revealed. At this point both stories begin to take a direction to not go back. When Frost describes him looking back “And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.” He expresses the thought of going back is not a bad one, but “way leads on to way” meaning time keeps going forward. At this point he really doesn’t see himself going...
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