What are some key similarities and differences between "The Road Not Taken" (Robert Frost) and "Airport" (Pauline Kaldas)?

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shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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At first reading it may not appear that there is much in common between Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” and Pauline Kaldas’ short story “Airport.”

Frost’s poem is about one person, while Kaldas’ story is about two people, one in America and one in Egypt. In Frost's poem we are never told what important decision is under consideration, but in Kaldas' story we know exactly what decisions the characters are weighing. 

However, if we look at the internal conflicts involved in each story, we can find important similarities. Frost’s speaker is looking through the forest while standing at a fork in two roads which “diverged in a yellow wood.” The poem looks at the difficulty that the speaker encounters when trying to decide which road to go down. He struggles with indecision and the knowledge that the decision is so important that:

I shall be telling this with a sigh,

Somewhere ages and ages hence,

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood—and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

In “Airport” the man (Samir) and the woman (Hoda) have struggled with the decision of whether or not to marry. They do not know each other, and they realize that their decision to marry is a gamble, but at this point in their lives they aren’t sure what else to do.

Samir thinks of it this way:

After two years in America and turning thirty, Samir knew he had to get married.

He isn’t getting married because he has fallen in love—he just believes that it is what must do at this time.

Hoda looks at her decision to leave Egypt and travel to America like this:

Perhaps that’s why she accepted the roll of dice that would lead her to America.

Hoda, too, is not marrying for love. She knows that she will not be happy in Egypt, so she takes the one possible out that she has—going to America to marry a man she has never met.

The lines from the poem

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference

are particularly significant. Samir is marrying an educated, independent-minded woman, something he is warned not to do by his brother. Hoda has decided to pursue her education at the expense of an earlier marriage proposal. Neither of them are following the accepted social path. Like Frost’s speaker in the poem, they are making the best decision they can under the circumstances and hoping for the best.

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