What literary devices are being used in Robert Frost's poem "Out,Out-"?  

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A literary device is a device used in writing to convey some kind of imaginative effect.  Even the title uses the literary device of repetition in order to engage the reader.

Line one greets us with onomatopoeia and personification.

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard (line 1)

Frost uses onomatopoeia in the words “buzz” and “rattled” to bring sounds of the farm into the poem.  He also personifies the saw by saying it “snarled” as an angry person (or animal) might.  This seems to give the saw a personality, and foreshadow danger.  The words “snarled and rattled” are also repeated twice in line 7.

The saw is also personified again when the saw leaps toward the boy’s hand when his sister distracts him.

At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. (lines 14-16)

A simile and metaphor are also used to describe the boy’s reaction to losing his hand.

The boy's first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. (lines 18-21)

The words “as if” mark the simile, and the metaphor is the life spilling out of his hand, which is literally the blood spilling.


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