Summary: This poem describes a farm accident that happened unexpectedly, this accident costed a young boy his life. It occurs at the end of the day, when his sister calls him for ‘supper’, this accident was his hand being severed off by the buzz saw that he was working with, he died shortly after. Before dying the doctor anaesthetizes him with ether.
This poem is based on a tragedy that happened to Frost’s neighbor’s child. 16 year old, Raymond. Frost’s emphasis on the boy’s passivity an innocence in this situation is significant in the context of time period. This poem was written after WW1. As a critique of the world events that forced boys to leave their childhoods behind and ultimately be destroyed by circumstances beyond their control. The boy hope to maintain his physical dignity in his death, rather than die with a missing hand. Frost channels the horrors occurring on the battlefields in Europe, where death from enemy shell was automatically devoid of dignity.
Title: Taken from Macbeth’s section in the play where Macbeth expresses profound grief over the abrupt suicide of Lady Macbeth. The statement that he says shows the briefness of life which ties into the young life lost in Frost’s poem. Open expression of grief is missing by the boy’s family. But the poet still feels for the boy, making Macbeth’s agonized cry his title.
Lady Macbeth also says ‘out’ and ‘out’ again, just like how the boys parents turned away to resume their chores, they mind find themselves unable to wash his blood from their hands. Appear to wash away their sense of responsibility for his death and their grief through impassivity and uncommunicativeness which is a tradition from New England apparently.
The title in recollection, effectively captures the moment of death, of conscious going ‘out’- the repetition and use of dash in the title both contribute to the effect.
Written in third person But has first person statement (‘call it a day, I wish they might have said’ ; Line 10 ) reflecting concern and closer involvement of narrator. Brief account involving people with who the narrator has no personal connection with.
Narrator sets scene from an outsider’s perceptive, reporting incident with objectivity and restraint.
Narrative advance, underlying emotions and tensions surface as the persona builds to the poem’s conclusion.
Form and Structure:
Mid-length narrative poem.
Blank Verse used to convey natural speech rhythms.
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