The Road Not Taken Explanation Line By Line

Provide a line-by-line summary/explanation of "The Road Not Taken."

In the first five lines of "The Road Not Taken," the speaker arrives at a fork in the road and knows he must pick one road. In the next ten lines, the speaker considers one road and believes it looks less worn, but then he realizes that they are both about the same. In the final five lines, he says that someday, he will reflect and say that taking the less-worn road "has made all the difference."

Expert Answers

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Lines 1–5: A lone traveler comes to a fork in the road and is sorry that he cannot travel down both paths. He stands in place for a long time, deciding which path to take and looking as far down one path as he can see.

Lines 6–10: The traveler looks down the other road. At first, he thinks it looks grassier and less worn than the first road, but then he realizes that the two roads are more or less the same.

Lines 11–15: Both roads are equally covered in leaves. The traveler decides to save the first road for another day, but knowing how one event can lead to another, he doubts he will ever return to travel the first road.

Lines 16–20: The traveler says that one day in the distant future, he will look back on that pivotal moment with a sigh and remember how he had a choice between two roads and he chose the one less traveled. He believes that he will look back on that decision and realize that it made a profound difference in his life.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 29, 2020
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First five lines:  The narrator comes to a split in the road and wishes he could take both.  He knows he can't and he looks down one road.  Some commentators think the part about the bend in the undergrowth is supposed to make the road sound scary.

Next five lines: The he looks at the other road and thought it was nicer because it was grassier and not as worn down.  But then realized the other one was about the same.  He seems to be saying that everything he thinks about the two roads is really illusion and they're both the same.

Next five lines: Continues the contradiction from the last stanza.  Then decides he'll take the other road some other day but also thinks he'll never come back.

Last five lines: He says that someday he'll look back and he'll say that taking the less-used road has made all the difference.

Overall, seems like he's saying it's all in his head.  The roads are the same but he will convince himself that they were different and that the difference was important.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
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