Out, out by Robert Frost

“Out, out–” by Robert Frost is a sorrowful and interesting poem. It is about a young boy working on a farm who has a tragic accident and loses his hand and dies. The doctor tries to save him but fails and the family appear to simply go back to work. This essay will discuss how Robert Frost uses word choice, imagery and theme to make this poem interesting.

Robert Frost uses specific word choice that helps to make this poem interesting. One example of this is, “Leaped out at the boys hand,”. This makes the poem interesting as it describes how the saw met the boys hand and makes the saw seem like an animal. “The boys first outcry was a rueful laugh” catches our attention as the boy is seemingly laughing after he has put his hand into the saw.

We realise a “rueful laugh”, means the boy is in shock and is sorry about what happened. When the boy is waiting he tells his sister not to let the doctor his hand off, “Don’t let him sister!” The boy is afraid about losing the hand, even though it is already gone. This is interesting as we know he hasn’t accepted the seriousness of his situation. “Little–less–nothing!” shows how slowly the boy is losing his life and the exclamation mark shows that everyone is shocked at is death. “And they, since they were not the ones dead, turned to their affairs”, shocks us as we expect his family to be grieving instead of going back to work. This makes you think that they didn’t really care about the boy.

Robert Frost’s use of imagery helps us imagine the story and scene as he tells it through this poem. One example of this is “the buzz saw snarled and rattled.” This is an example of an onomatopeia and helps us imagine what the saw would sound like and how loud it would be. Another effective phrase is “sweet scented stuff,” as it appeals to our sense of smell. By using alliteration, Frost helps us to imagine the smell of the wood as it came out of the saw. It helps us to paint a picture of the farm and imagine ourselves there. “The life from spilling,” is a metaphor for the blood spilling from the boys hand and Frost uses it to show how quickly the boy was losing his life. This piece of imagery appeals to our sense of sight as it helps us to imagine the scene as it happens, both gruesome and shocking.

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The theme of “Out, out–“, is Robert Frost’s belief that children were being made to work at too young an age. There is evidence of this in the poem, “…big boy, Doing a man’s work.” Frost believed that children were being made to do dangerous jobs, that children were being made to work too much. We see this when he writes, “To please the boy by giving him the half hour that a boy counts so much when saved from work.” He clearly thought that children should be allowed to play more and work less. “Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart,” shows that Frost saw work as a ‘man’s’ job and “child at heart” suggests that he thought children had been made too mature too early in order to help out the family by working. All these quotes show that Frost didn’t believe in children working.

In conclusion, “Out, out–” by Robert Frost has written an interesting and sorrowful poem which expresses his views on child labour. His use of word choice, imagery and theme make for a great poem as they all work well together and clearly show his views on child labour. They also describe what happened to the boy well so the reader can imagine what it would have been like. When we read this poem we think of how children are forced into dangerous work and I think that this is what Frost intended. He expresses his opinion well and the reader can see how he thinks. I think that it is this and the fact that it is based on a real story that make the poem interesting.