In the poem "The Road Not Taken", the speaker takes a long time to make his decisions. What is he thinking about?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator takes a long time because he is contemplating which road to take.  That sounds trivial, and it is, IF you only make a surface level reading of the poem.  

If you search for a meaning deeper than a guy choosing which road to walk, then you see the poem as an illustration of choices and decisions people make in all aspects of life. 

The narrator of the poem is comparing the decision of which road to take to other decisions that he has made in life.  The reader is never told about what other specific decisions, but the implication is there.  

"Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back."
With these lines, the speaker is providing past evidence to the reader. The evidence is that the speaker knows that more often than not, the act of making a decision to one option permanently shuts the door to the other option. That's why he doubts he'll ever come back. Past choices have taught him that either/or decisions are really either/or. There isn't a both option. There isn't a one today and the other tomorrow possibility.  
The speaker takes a long time at the fork in the road, because he understands that the fork in the road is representative of so much more. 
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The Road Not Taken

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