Is this a good essay on "Out, Out--"?My essay begins with,the statement,  "Frost uses excellent language and creates sympathy for the boy. It is a great poem which outlines some problems in life....

Is this a good essay on "Out, Out--"?

My essay begins with,the statement,  "Frost uses excellent language and creates sympathy for the boy. It is a great poem which outlines some problems in life. It ends with the boy dying."

Asked on by deww6

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This is one of my favorite poems by Frost.  The poem's story, though graphic and tragic, makes use of so many types of figurative language that it serves as one of the great imagery poems. 

I believe what you are asking is what would be a good thesis statement for an essay about this poem. Before I suggest some ideas, I am going to give you a brief synopsis of the poem.

Using a saw that is too much for him, a young boy cuts wood.  The air is filled with the dust and sweet smell of the wood.  The setting is Vermont in an area surrounded by mountains.  It is growing late in the day.  The saw seems to have a life of its own as the boy uses it.  Seemingly, it is just an ordinary end of the day.

The second part of the poem begins with the line: "Call it a day." The poet wishes that the boy had taken thirty minutes just to rest or play.  Suddenly, his sister  rings the dinner bell startling the boy.  The saw jumps from the boys hand--it appears that the boy almost gave his hand to the saw--and cuts his hand badly.  The boy cries out but it sounds like a strange laugh when he sees what has happened to him. He realizes that he may lose his hand and begs his sister not to let the doctor cut it off. When the doctor sedates him, the boy loses the battle and dies.  No one believes that it has happened.  Yet, because death is  a part of life and life must go on, everyone turns to back to his life.

Frost uses several techniques in writing the poem:

personification--the saw snarling and rattling, having a life of its own; jumps up to cut the hand;

allusion in the title of the poem--a quotation from Shakespeare's play Macbeth, "Out, out brief candle.." Macbeth comments on his wife's death and the brevity of life

Word choice and phrasing...the boy's death portrayed by the words, "Little, less, nothing!...and that ended it." Frost does not need to say the boy died. 

Onomatopoeia, alliteration, extended metaphor...all these techniques can be found in this poem. 

Here are some suggestions for a thesis statement, remembering that in a short  essay,  the writer should only deal with one major idea:

  • Frost illustrates the brevity of life through the use of figurative language.
  • The third person omniscient narrator demonstrates a cyncial  and uninvolved voice.
  • Frost's poem makes a statement about the indifference of mankind toward the suffering of others.
  • The language of Frost make the poem's story come to life.

These are the kind of statements that you can use as your controlling idea in your essay.  After you choose your thesis, then you want to use the ideas and quotations from the work and secondary sources that you think best support it. 

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