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What can be used as a good thesis statement for the poem "Out, Out" by Robert Frost?I'm...

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tremibri | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 24, 2010 at 10:52 PM via web

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What can be used as a good thesis statement for the poem "Out, Out" by Robert Frost?

I'm writing a paper and the only thing that I need help with is trying to find a thesis statement that I can use to base my paper on.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted February 24, 2010 at 11:08 PM (Answer #1)

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"‘Out, Out—’" tells a story of sudden, meaningless death, and does so with spare economy. Perhaps the "they"—the doctor and the hospital staff—who turn to their own affairs are not merciless. The "watcher at his pulse" grows frightened when the pulse fails; no one wants to believe the boy will die. There seems to be no one to blame for the "faceless accident." In one view, "Simultaneously, one sees the human watchers touched by normal griefs and fears. And yet life must turn to a more important task finally, that of continuing. . . . Only the grand composer could hold together in one poem the two severe and mutually accusing ideas that one must be moved to pity and compassion and that one must coldly and sternly pursue the duty of endurance and  survival". Frost’s poem offers no comfort, but it seems a realistic view of what happens in an emergency ward. Any student interested in a career in medicine might be asked for a response to this poem.

Frost’s allusion to Macbeth is part of the meaning of the poem, and one may be asked to think about it. Perhaps Frost suggests that the snarling buzz-saw full of sound and fury, reaching out its friendly handshake, just doesn’t make sense. This is one among several of Frost’s poems that seem to question the existence of a benevolent order in the universe.

A good thesis could be, "Though chaos and death can happen so quickly, life must continue, as revealed in the cutting of wood, the dinners that people must attend, and in the caretakers of an emergency room." 

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 24, 2010 at 11:10 PM (Answer #2)

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When trying to pick a thesis statement, it helps to think of the themes of the poem, and what the author is trying to say with its message. In this poem, Frost writes a rather depressing tale of a boy who dies, and how his family, "since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs."  You could write a thesis on that theme, of how the living have very little sensitivity to the dead; how death impacts them for a moment only and then they move on.  That is a pretty depressing viewpoint, but one that Frost chooses to take in his poem.  If you choose to go this route, your thesis could be, "In his poem 'Out, Out' Robert Frost asserts that life has little meaning if it is not your own."  Then, in your paper, you could describe how he goes about making that point.

Another possible route is to analyze the poetic techniques, and how they enhance themes or meaning to the poem.  For example, in the poem, Frost uses personification to make the saw seem like a hungry, alive animal that is intent on hurting the boy.  This enhnaces a theme of how life has many things that are dangerous and make living a difficult thing.  If you take this route, your thesis could state, "Through personification, Frost makes it seem like life is out to get the boy," or something of that nature.

Picking a meaning or theme to the poem that struck you, then discussing how Frost brings that meaning to be is a good approach to writing a thesis.  I hope that helps to get you started; good luck!

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 24, 2010 at 10:59 PM (Answer #3)

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It seems to me that we would need to know what your paper is saying before we can help you to craft a thesis statement that would be appropriate for that paper.  You say that you have the rest of the paper but that you need only a thesis statement.  If you have the rest of the paper already, or if you know what you are going to say, then please let us know so that we can suggest thesis statements.

I would think that you might want to talk about what kind of a mood Frost creates in this poem and how he does it, but I do not know if that is what you are doing.

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