Frost uses a detached and emotionless tone to create a sense of horror in this poem. The closest that the narrator gets to expressing emotion is when he comments that he wishes "they might have said" to "Call it a day" and given the boy a half an hour off (in order that he might have avoided the accident completely). His description of the, frankly, horrifying accident is so devoid of extremes that we can almost misunderstand what happens. It is presented, somewhat ironically, in a completely unhorrifying manner. The narrator says,
At the word [supper], 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. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting.
He describes the saw cutting off the boy's hand (or nearly so) as a kind of meeting between well-intentioned, polite strangers, rather than as the completely blood-soaked horror show that it must have been. He employs a kind of understatement with this description,
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