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"Out, Out -" by Robert Frost

IGCSE English Analysis Coursework
by

Holly Dejsupa

on 1 October 2012

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Transcript of "Out, Out -" by Robert Frost

"Out, Out -" by Robert Frost IGCSE English [Human Nature] Analysis Themes: Theme #1: Power & Greed Theme #2:
Fleeting Happiness Structure Biblical Metaphorical References... Theme #3: Attachment to Youth "snarled and rattled":
Onomatopoeia:
- Pessimistic word effect on readers
- Negative view of buzz saw from beginning
Repetition:
- Human race more fixated upon monotonous work life like machines
- Reflects how worth of human life changed from enjoyment to competitive race - Narrative poem: from the poets point of view (speaking for everyone)
- 34 continuous lines, no stanzas: represents how the death event of the young boy happened quickly with words jumbling into each other
- Enjambment: metaphor for waves of the sea of life - situation of the boy dying will just fold and collapse as the sentences do to each other and he will soon be forgotten later
- Last 6 lines before last 2 lines: all ends in full stops to show abruptness of situation and increasing tension
- Last 2 lines: do not even in full stops, as it is the final stretch to reveal the entire purpose of the poem the poet intended on readers The Boy: "Jesus," "Eve"
Buzz Saw: "Judas" 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 it meant 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!
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. 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 a 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. 1. Power and Greed
2. Fleeting Happiness
3. Attachment to Youth Synopsis: Set in Vermont during the early 1900s, a young boy is working on the buzz saw - he is part of the "working class." The end of the day looms near, and the boy's sister comes out to call him in for supper. Out of pure excitement, the boy accidentally swings his arm and his hand gets near- amputated by the buzz saw. He begs his sister to not let the doctor amputate his hand, but he realizes he is already losing too much blood. The doctor arrives and puts the boy under anesthesia and he dies during that time. Everybody around him then goes back to work. "Out, Out -" by Robert Frost "Five mountain ranges behind one another":
Symbolism:
- Shows narrow-mindedness of humans; motivation from greed to become like the upper class
- Reflects chain reaction of generations destined to become part of the working class again
- Indication of how blind humans are, only focused on the present moment as they cannot see beyond the mountain range; not looking at life on a long-term outlook
Metaphorical:
- Mountain ranges a distant dream of the boy to become part of the upper class; a fantasy as his desire is out of reach “And they, since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs”:
Symbolism/Metaphorical:
- Humans see life as a line, and they cannot swerve around it; they keep working despite whatever happens because the upper class depends on them “Call it a day, I wish they might have said":
Monosyllabic:
- Represents dull, robot-like speech the human race has retained to after being influenced from power
- Foreshadows tragedy to come because of short, rapid words
- Implies child's death did not impact anybody severely enough; event did not affect poet's life
Symbolism:
- “Call it a day” shows workers oblivious knowledge of time/part of day; decide to finish work through observing the fading light of "day" “Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it,”
Sibilance:
- Use of S-sibilance in beginning symbolizes the sharp, painful fleeting moment of happiness
- Readers feel pitiful for the boy, as the scene then turns back to his hard-working life "To tell them "Supper.""
Symbolism:
- Food disappears after enjoying its contents, symbolizing humans want to satisfy ourselves immediately
- We search for instant happiness after current one is gone "To tell them "Supper."":
Metaphor:
- Foreshadows the death of the child; reference to “The Last Supper” in the Bible where "Judas" (buzz saw) betrays "Jesus" (the boy) "Leaped out at the boy's hand,":
Personification:
- The buzz saw is personified and suddenly alive, a snake-like characteristic from ironic calm scenery of Vermont; snake-like presence also is the symbol of evilness in the Bible - another reference
- Explores ability of human nature to switch from noble to malicious according to our decisions, just as Judas betrayed Jesus "As if to prove saws knew what supper meant":
Symbolism/Metaphorical:
- This shows the disloyalty of "Judas" (buzz saw), restricting boy from happiness (supper) as his life shall be work and nothing more "...he swung toward them holding up the hand":
Symbolism:
- Gives off vibes of a hierarchy, "holding up" his hand as he respects his hand which is what his life revolves around showing how attached the boy is to youth "He must have given the hand."
Five senses:
- Frost makes it sound as if the hand and mind are two different organisms; hand holds the personality of curiosity (just as Eve betrayed God's words to pick the apple from the Tree) and wanders back into the buzz saw's trap without the boy's mind knowing himself "Don't let him cut my hand off - the doctor, when he comes.":
Emotive/Pity:
- Childishness of his heart exposed; he does not want to lose his "curiosity wandere guardian" despite death looming in because of his attachment to youth
- Readers feel sorry for the boy as we wonder why such a young boy had to die - we see his working life gives him minimal satisfaction so his desperation to stay young is maximum End of "Out, Out -" by Robert Frost Analysis on Human Nature By: Chaninda (Holly) Dejsupa Poem Setting Meaning - Setting: Vermont, New England (1916)
- World War I: July 28, 1914 - November 11, 1918
Relating Ideas/Quotes:
"Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs."
- Like the soldiers in WWI, this quote shows how the people could detach themselves emotionally from the deaths [of the soldiers] and continued fighting the opponent in the war.
- An alternative perspective; people's death do not impact us severely enough because we do not have "experience" of death
"...lifted eyes could count"
- Could reflect how the soldiers did not take time to look around as they were too busy trying to survive themselves
- The buzz saw is a piece of machinery; dust produced could symbolize how those not in the war are blind by the "haze" and cannot see actual conditions soldiers live in (machinery is the media/officials to trick viewers)

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