In "The Road Not Taken," what do the two paths symbolize?

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belarafon's profile pic

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

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"The Road Not Taken" states that the two paths are just that: paths in a "yellow wood," one of which is more grassy and "wants wear." Typically, the symbolism is for choices in life that will have a profound effect on the future. The narrator is faced with two major options, each of which is "really about the same," but one of which he thinks is the more unusual path. Deciding to take the path "less traveled," or the path that most people avoid, the narrator muses that he might regret his decision later on. Since hindsight only comes from experience, the narrator cannot second-guess his choice now; in the future, he might look back "with a sigh" and wish that he was able to take the other path instead. Major decisions in life often lead to regret or second-guessing in hindsight, but at the moment of decision, one can only "look down the path as far" as possible, trying to predict if the decision will be the correct one. Without the power of prophecy, though, the narrator can only make what he thinks is the best decision at the time, no matter what happens in the future.

kristyr76's profile pic

kristyr76 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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The forks in the road are compared to or represent paths one can take in life.  One path is the path most people take, the common life choices, the safe route.  The other path is the uncommon path, choices made by few people.  The second path may be more dificult at first but provides more rewards.  Robert Frost ends the poem by saying he took the path "less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."  He says this in a positive way, encouraging people to be individuals, make your own choices, what you think is right, and you will be satisfied with your choices, or the path you have taken in life.

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