What literary devices are being used in Robert Frost's poem "Out, Out—"?  

In "Out, Out—," Frost uses the literary device onomatopoeia in the description of the saw "rattl[ing]" and "snarl[ing]," also uses personification of the saw as something that possesses human understanding and ability. He employs metonymy when the speaker says that the "life" was "spilling" from the boy's hand; the word "life" is substituted for "blood." The matter-of-fact tone contributes to the strangely calm mood, despite the tragedy, and the title alludes to a famous and appropriate monologue from Shakespeare's Macbeth.

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When the speaker says that the "buzz saw snarled and rattled," they employ a literary device called onomatopoeia: a word whose sound duplicates the sound it describes. Both snarl and rattle are examples of onomatopoeia.

The speaker describes how the saw behaved:

As if to prove saws knew what...

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When the speaker says that the "buzz saw snarled and rattled," they employ a literary device called onomatopoeia: a word whose sound duplicates the sound it describes. Both snarl and rattle are examples of onomatopoeia.

The speaker describes how the saw behaved:

As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
[It] Leaped out at the boy's hand [...]

In this description, they use personification: the attribution of human qualities to something that is not human. In this case, the saw is given the ability to know something as well as to leap.

After the saw cuts through the boy's wrist, nearly severing his hand, the speaker uses metonymy—a substitution for something associated with a thing for that thing itself—when he says that the boy holds up the hand

as if to keep
The life from spilling.

It is not really life spilling out of this terrible wound but blood, but because blood is so closely associated with life, we understand what is being said here. The more blood the boy loses, the more likely he is to lose his very life. Blood is life.

The poem also employs a very matter-of-fact tone. Tone refers to the way the author seems to feel about the text's subject. After the boy cries pitifully to his sister, pleading with her not to let the doctor amputate his hand, the speaker simply says, "So. But the hand was gone already." Then, in the final lines, he says of the boy's family,

since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

In short, life must go on; everyone else still has responsibilities and lives to lead, and so they turn back to those lives almost immediately. The mood created here is almost serene, despite the awful events. There is simply nothing to be done about the boy's hand or the loss of his life, and so everyone else must go on with their own. It may seem unfeeling, but it is fact. It changes nothing to react dramatically.

The poem's title also uses an allusion—an indirect reference to another person, event, or text—through its quotation of a line from Shakespeare's Macbeth. When Macbeth learns that his wife has died, he launches into a monologue about the futility and meaninglessness and fragility of life. He says, in part, "Out, out, brief candle!" using a metaphor to compare life to a candle, something that does not last very long and which can be snuffed out so easily (5.5.26). We see this very idea play out in Frost's poem: a young boy's life is quickly and easily snuffed out, so to speak, as a result of an unpredictable accident. Further, Macbeth's response to the news of his wife's death is rather unemotional and matter-of-fact. He muses about life rather than grieves for her, and then he goes on to fight his enemy in battle. He must move on with his life, just as the boy's family must move on with theirs.

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In this poem Robert Frost uses literary devices including allusion, imagery, foreshadowing, irony, and understatement

An allusion is a brief reference to a historical event or literary work that brings an associated meaning. The title, "Out, Out--," is a reference to Shakespeare's Macbeth. When Macbeth mourns Lady Macbeth's death, he laments, "Out, out, brief candle!" Before her death, Lady Macbeth, mad with guilt, mutters, "Out, damned spot! out, I say!" Both references apply here. The boy who dies in the accident dies too early--the candle of his life has been too brief. But the adults, who gave the boy a man's job to do, must live with the guilt all their lives of wishing they had prevented the fatal accident.

Imagery is a device that allows readers to experience a scene with their five senses. The sounds of the buzz saw ("snarled and rattled"), the description of the setting ("Five mountain ranges one behind the other/ Under the sunset"), the boy's rueful laugh, and the way he holds up his severed hand are all vivid images that bring readers into the poem.

Foreshadowing predicts what will happen later. When the poet speaks in first person, "Call it a day, I wish they might have said," readers know something unfortunate is going to happen.

Irony is when the opposite of what is expected happens. The boy's "rueful laugh" is ironic because laughter is out of place in such a tragedy. Even the statement that "he saw all spoiled" turns out to be ironic. The boy thought he was facing only amputation, which as it turned out, would have been a preferred, even blessed, outcome compared to the boy's death.

Understatement occurs when words are used that minimize the emotions or import of an event. The ending of the poem is shocking in its lack of emotion and proper tribute to the dead boy and those who witnessed the tragedy:

"No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs."

 

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A literary device is a device used in writing to convey some kind of imaginative effect.  Even the title uses the literary device of repetition in order to engage the reader.

Line one greets us with onomatopoeia and personification.

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard (line 1)

Frost uses onomatopoeia in the words “buzz” and “rattled” to bring sounds of the farm into the poem.  He also personifies the saw by saying it “snarled” as an angry person (or animal) might.  This seems to give the saw a personality, and foreshadow danger.  The words “snarled and rattled” are also repeated twice in line 7.

The saw is also personified again when the saw leaps toward the boy’s hand when his sister distracts him.

At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. (lines 14-16)

A simile and metaphor are also used to describe the boy’s reaction to losing his hand.

The boy's first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. (lines 18-21)

The words “as if” mark the simile, and the metaphor is the life spilling out of his hand, which is literally the blood spilling.

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