Are there examples of imagery, allusion, or hyperbole in the poem 'Out, Out--' by Robert Frost?

1 Answer

cybil's profile pic

cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

This poem, which is based on a real-life event, is full of striking images. The most impressive one, in my opinion, occurs early in the poem when the narrator describes "five mountain ranges one behind the other under the sunset far into Vermont." Try to visualize five pointed mountains; it's not hard to imagine that Frost is foreshadowing the teeth of the buzz-saw. That he uses the number five, furthermore, and notes that the time of day is sunset suggests the boy's bloody hand with five fingers.

The title of the poem is allusion to Shakespeare's play Macbeth. In a soliloquy late in the play, Macbeth compares life to a candle: "Out, out brief candle!" he says, noting the brevity and frailty of life as Frost's poem also does.

For hyperbole, I think perhaps the repetition of the buzz saw's noise ("snarled and rattled"---onomatopoeia) may be exaggeration to call the reader's attention to the danger of the tool. From a different perspective, the callousness of the boy's parents may also be exaggerated by their apparent absence until the end of the poem. Where are they when the boy and his sister are working? Why is this "big boy doing a man's work though a child at heart"? Notice that the boy calls to his sister for help, not his parents. At the end of the poem when the boy dies, "they" may refer to his parents; if so, "they, since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs" suggests an indifference that may also be an exaggeration.