Out, Out, Goes a Life: The Significance of Death in Society

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Allie Carrigan
Period G
Out, Out, Goes A Life: The Significance of death in society

The poem “Out, out, -,“ by Robert Frost tells the tale of a young boy in the backwoods of Vermont who loses his hand in the accident which leads to his eventual death. Told from the perspective of an onlooker, the poem utilizes imagery of nature, references to acceptance of death, and the speaker’s connotation of desperation to convey the theme. People acknowledge the inevitability of death so when it transpires death only affects the one dead, while everyone and everything else does not alter.

The use of imagery of nature suggests the frivolity of human affairs. The poem begins by describing the surrounding nature, “that lifted eyes could count/ Five mountain ranges one behind the other/ Under the sunset far into Vermont” (l. 4-6). Describing the vastness that surrounds the boy and his work makes him appear relatively small in stature compared to the mountains, seen only by lifted eyes. The greatness of these natural surroundings makes the boy and his life seem insignificant in the scheme of things. The contrast of the death of the boy and the beauty and liveliness of nature show that even when such a horrific event happens, nature remains unchanged.

In the poem, Frost suggests that everyone accepts death. When the chainsaw leaps from the boys grasp and strikes his hand, “Neither refused the meeting” (l. 18). The boy “was old enough to know” (l. 23); nothing he could do would stop the events from transpiring. Though frantic, the boy did recognize his fate. After the futile attempts from the doctor to revive him, “they/Were not the one dead” (l. 33-34), so they “turned to their affairs” (l. 34). Immediately following the death, the doctor and family turned their backs to the boy, leaving him behind. They accepted his death and moved on with their lives, somewhat callously. Everyone remained essentially unaltered by the events, except for the boy.

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