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"Out, Out - " by Robert Frost

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Miranda Beach

on 21 November 2012

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Transcript of "Out, Out - " by Robert Frost

"Out, Out-" By Robert Frost Allusions Shifts Theme Attitude Allusions explained... Irony Personification Form matters. Most authors use form to enhance the meaning of the poem. In this poem the lack of form and uncertainty of the rhyming scheme in stanzas contribute to the message that life is uncertain. Through out the poem Frost gives inanimate objects animal like qualities. Therefore the boys accident with the saw seems malicious, personal and premeditated. "And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled" line 7.
Additionally this analysis is supported by the accident occuring right after the sister calls out to him."The saw, as if to prove saws knew what supper meant, leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap." line 16. It is ironic that a boy who "is doing a mans work" and has such a promising and useful life ahead of him is the one who dies. This highlights the theme of uncertainty and unpredictability that is recurring throughout the poem. Frost's title "Out, Out-" is a direct allusion to shakespeare's play Macbeth. It is refering to when the main character, Macbeth, learns of his wife's death and says, "Out, out, brief candle!" Macbeth is trying to convey the uncertainty of life, Frost mirrors this theme through his title.
Death does not discriminate based on social standing. Frost shows this by the reference to Macbeth, a king, and his inclusion of a boy from a middle class family. The main theme of this poem is the uncertainty of life and the potential briefness that it presents. In the beginning of the poem the authors attitude is distant, almost uncaring. Later when the boy dies the tone becomes one of outrage, as if the fact that he has been forgotten so quickly is unacceptable. The attitude of the speaker mirrors the shock of the situation followed by the five stages of grief. The change of setting, from the house to the doctors office , contributes to the shift in attitude. Once the boy dies he is forgotten and those around him continue on with their lives. ‘Out, Out—’
The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside him in her apron
To tell them ‘Supper.’ At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws know what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all was spoiled. ‘Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!’
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened to his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.
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