Compare How Each Writer Makes You Feel Sympathy for the Main Characters in Each Text: ‘Out, Out –’ by Robert Frost and the Last Night by Sebastian Faulks

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Both of the writers make me feel sympathy for the main characters because the main characters are both still in their youth and they both face the same fate – death. Although the characters are portrayed in very different situations, both writers show how powerless they are to avert their fate. By having an accident or tragedy in the pieces, the writers make the reader feel compassion because it is not the central characters fault. From saying that the boy was ‘a child at heart’ whilst ‘doing a man’s work’, Frost tells us directly how young the boy is and how he is not experienced enough to understand how important his hands are. He uses repetition of the word ‘child’ to emphasise how still is. In contrast, André and Jacob in The Last Night are only children; they are orphans and they only have each other to rely on. Faulks makes us feel even more sorry for the Jewish children because even a ‘baby of a few weeks is being lifted’ onto the bus to go to the concentration camp. The writers make the reader feel sympathy for the main characters by making their background circumstances pitiable; although they are both young, their lives are very hard. The boy in the poem is only a teenager, but he is already working. In the poem, he is on his own working by himself and has to work for a very long day. Frost uses repetition of ‘snarled and rattled’ to emphasise how boring the boy’s job is. He has to concentrate and cannot enjoy the scenery; he is not one of those that had the time to lift their eyes to ‘count the five mountain ranges one behind the other under the sunset far into Vermont.’ In contrast, the living conditions in the Last Night are very poor; the squalid conditions of the Jews that are waiting to be taken to the concentration camp makes the readers feel pity for them. While the children are waiting, they are only given a sandwich and a pail of water to share between them; they have to drink water out of sardine cans. The sleeping conditions are also very poor; the children have to sleep on dung. When Faulks talks about André ‘lying on the straw’ with the ‘soft bloom of his cheek laying, uncaring, in the dung’, the contrast of the words ‘soft bloom’ and ‘dung’ informs the reader of how dirty it is there. The characters in both texts have the same fate, but the writers portray their fate in different ways. In ‘Out, Out –’, the storyline happens a lot quicker and the poem includes the boy’s death. This makes the reader feel very shocked and sorry for the main character because everything can happen so quickly; life can be short and brutal. Frost makes the reader feel sympathy for the central characters by making the event seem threatening; he uses harsh onomatopoeic words. In ‘Out, Out –’, the buzz saw is presented as the boy’s enemy. Frost uses the word ‘snarled’ to compare the buzz saw with a fierce dog. The word ‘rattled’ makes the reader anxious because it makes the buzz saw seem like it is going to break soon. Frost uses repetition in his poem; by repeating ‘snarled and rattled’, the atmosphere grows tenser as the disastrous moment is approaching. He makes the accident seem terrible by including many details. The boy’s reaction after the incident happens is terror and fear about his hand. He shows the effect of injecting the wrong amount of ether in someone. The boy ‘puffed his lips out with his breath’ because the doctor ‘put him in the dark of ether.’ Frost even uses punctuation to explain the boy’s death; he uses dashes near the end of the poem to make it sound jerky: ‘they listened at his heart. Little–less–nothing!–and that ended it.’ These pauses mimic his breathing because it is gradually slowing down as the words ‘little’, ‘less’ and then ‘nothing’ indicate. In The Last Night, the storyline is slower and less dramatic because the story ends with the Jews being loaded on the bus, while the poem ends with the boy’s death. By doing this, Faulks builds up anticipation of something dreadful that is going to...
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