In the poem "The Road Not Taken," what does the narrator hope to do one day?

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shake99's profile pic

shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” the narrator is contemplating two roads, trying to decide which one to take. He has a difficult time making up his mind because the roads look similar, and he cannot see where either road leads. This is symbolic for many of the choices we have to make in life. It’s not always clear what choice is best, and we certainly can’t be sure of the results of our choices.

Then Frost extends the symbolism to include a thought we sometimes have in your lives:

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Frost means that, although he is choosing one path now, he’ll come back and take the other path someday in the future. This is similar to what we do sometimes when we say, “I choose this thing now, I’ll do the other later.”

But the speaker is not naïve. After he thinks about it for a moment he realizes that he will probably never be able to come back and give the other road (choice) a try.

Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

He’s saying that this decision will lead to something else which will lead to yet another thing, and he’ll probably never find himself in a situation where he can come back and try that other road.

belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The narrator knows that he must make a choice, regardless of the outcome. He cannot take both paths, and ultimately decides to take the one that he thinks is "less traveled" because of the overgrown grass. This symbolizes a person's unusual choice, not one that is commonly made by most other people. As he walks, the narrator thinks that might do two things in the future:

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence.
(Frost, "The Road Not Taken,"

His first wish is that although he has made his choice, he might be offered the opportunity to experiences the second someday. However, he knows that this is unlikely; having made his choice, he will almost certainly never return to the same circumstances that led to his first choice.

The second, more of an assumption about his future, is that he will be able to look back on this choice and second-guess it "with a sigh," since he might live to regret his choice. However it turns out, he will always wonder about the other path, and wonder if his choice was the right one; his memories might make the other path seem more alluring as time goes by, but he knows that his choice is definitive, and he must continue on.


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