What is a summary of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken"? What are some examples of symbolism?

Expert Answers
beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" speaks to the importance of making life’s decisions. The four-stanza poem describes a lone traveler coming to a fork in the road where he has to decide which way to go.

In the first stanza, Frost describes that “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” which indicates the traveler is on the road in autumn. The traveler takes his time looking far down one of the roads until he cannot see any farther because of the undergrowth. He takes his time deciding, which is symbolic of the decision being important, perhaps life changing.

In the next stanza, the traveler decides to take the other path “because it was grassy and wanted wear.” Although the paths seemed to have similar wear, on that particular day the second one beckoned him.

Frost describes the road again in stanza three and emphasizes the idea that it is autumn when the traveler is making his decision. He describes the path he took as having “leaves no step had trodden black.” On that morning, no one took that path before him. In literature, autumn is a symbol of the waning year, the need to do something in a timely manner, or the end of a life. In this case, the traveler has to make a choice and decides to take the less trodden path, and to remember the other for another time. He knows that he probably will not return to that spot because as time passes there are new decisions to made, and one thing follows another.

Finally, in the last stanza the traveler describes how he will tell about this trip and decision for a long time to come. He emphasizes that taking the less traveled path makes all the difference in his life. In other words, his choice contributes to the uniqueness of his life.