“Out, Out” by Robert Frost

The poem “Out, Out” by Robert Frost is a realistic depiction of the flow of life in rural areas where it is shown how it can be interrupted suddenly. This paper analyzes the poem in terms of its narration and its main theme.

The setting of the poem could be considered a town or a suburb near Vermont where there is an ordinary yard in which most of the poem’s events took place, and although the place itself is not described, it could be sensed that it is a rural area. The plot of the poem is seen as simple, with little or no action at first sight. A boy is working with the saw in the yard and accidentally cuts his own hand, and at the hospital, the boy dies. The characters of the poem include the boy himself, his sister, the doctor and assumingly someone older, either a father or both parents, who are referred to in the poem as “they” and given only a minor role in the poem.

The poem starts with giving the impression of a hard-working environment where such where words were used “snarled and rattled” and dust.

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard.
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood.

Then as nothing predicts any bad events, the author shows the atmosphere of beauty where the illusion of quiet sound using “Sweet-scented stuff”. This technique, along with transferring the reader to the view of the mountains and the sunset, could serve two purposes, an indication that the day is closing its end and the estrangement of the reader of feeling or predicting any bad or unfortunate consequences.

Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
Five mountain ranges, one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.

The repetition of the words “snarled and rattled” in the poem serves as an emphasis, and unlike the beginning of the poem here, it serves as an annoying sound that starts to predict a tragedy. This sound can be similar to the accompaniment in horror movies, where nothing happened yet, but the viewer is acknowledged that an unpleasant event is close enough.

The poem’s climax could be considered the incident that when the boy’s hand was cut. The implication that the story could go the other way and as to prepare the reader that people do not know how the flow of their life could be interrupted suddenly with no warnings, the author states

Call it a day, I wish they might have said

As a sense of irony that the boy could not believe what happened, the poem shows the first reaction of the boy as a mixed feeling.

The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh.

As a transfer from the first part of the events in the poem, the author shift to a realistic depiction of the state of the boy’s hand.

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.

The resolution of the poem came in the hospital, where the emphasis that the life could end up shortly without warnings or precautions just as the hand was cut off. Just three words are depicting the end of life…

Little-less-nothing-and that ended it

The main theme of the poem could be summarized in this verse, where the author did not use long descriptions, rather than one verse that ended a life—telling that the life is short and an ordinary day can end the life which after that seems so insignificant even for the people that surround us. The irony and the nothingness of life are shown in the last verse, where life continued as if nothing happened.

Were not the one dead, turned to their affair.