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Frost's diction reveals that death can be random and life can be insignificant. His diction sets up in lines 1–8 images of sound (onomatopoetic snarled and rattled), smell (sweet-scented stuff), and sight (dust, sticks, mountains) that evoke the instant and the immediate. Our sense of the instant is expanded in lines 9–14; we learn that the day has been uneventful, work is over, and it’s supper time. The boy’s hand is severed by accident in one moment of inattention. The poem is structured by stages toward death; each one is unanticipated. The rueful laugh and the spoiled life are followed by fading pulse (No one believed) and then death. No one understands what is happening; the death, like the cut, is a product of chance. Those who turned to their affairs (we don’t know who they are) but may be the emergency room attendants of doctors and nurses, underscore the insignificance and randomness of chance events.
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