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In Robert Frost's poem, "Out, out—", find a use of: paradox, metaphor, irony,...

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cjdoczzs | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 6, 2011 at 9:58 AM via web

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In Robert Frost's poem, "Out, out—", find a use of: paradox, metaphor, irony, metonymy, allusion, personification, symbol, and imagery.

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 behing 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.

 

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 6, 2011 at 2:49 PM (Answer #1)

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In Robert Frost's poem, "Out, out—", there are a number of literary devices employed.

Paradox is seen with the following line which describes the boy doing a man's job. One might be confused that a boy could do a man's job, but he is a "big" boy, old enough to do the work—perhaps, however, there is a chiding or sorrowful note that a boy was doing a man's job...

...big boy / Doing a man's work, though a child at heart--

Irony can be found in the following passage. The irony is that the boy is given a man's job, but more than knowing how to cut the wood, the boy is man enough to know the implications of what has happened with this accident—what it means to him: losing the use of his hand, or worse...

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 spoiled.

There is a metaphor in the line that speaks of the boy being anesthetized during surgery as they try to save his hand—his life:

The doctor put him in the dark of ether...

Metonymy is used with the following line, which is used instead of saying, "It's time to eat." Here "supper" represents the process of eating a meal.

To tell them 'Supper'...

We see allusion in the mountain ranges that are described here, may be referring to the Green Mountains, which are a part of the Appalachian Mountain range.

Five mountain ranges one behind the other

Under the sunset far into Vermont.

An example of personification refers to the hand and the saw as things "meeting" like people would. (There is also a play on words here, the giving of a hand is what one does in meeting someone—people shake hands)...

He must have given the hand. However it was,

Neither refused the meeting.

One symbol may be found in the "hand." In some cultures, the image of the hand (hamsa) is seen...

...as a superstitious defense against the evil eye [bad luck].

In this case, the boy's loss of hand indicates his loss of luck or defense against something bad.  The hand is symbolic in the Christian faith as a sign of a blessing, but also a benediction or a form of blessing. However, the hand might represent the expressiveness of a hand: something that can share a sense of love—with a touch, can complete a task, clap with joy, or be held by another in love or affection. It can offer comfort, be extended in friendship, or hold a child. It seems symbolic of life here in all that a hand means to a person: especially to a working man, which the boy hopes to be someday.

Imagery is used throughout the poem. In fact, the literary devices you have mentioned above are all forms of imagery. However, an example of imagery that does not pertain to one of the devices mentioned can be seen in:

And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,

Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.

 

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