Characters

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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 508

The characters of Robert Frost's "Out, Out—" can be seen as archetypal or typical stock characters that we might encounter in literary works or other forms of art. The characters are the boy, his sister, the saw, the doctor, and "they."

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The Boy

The poem tells the story of a boy whose hand is cut off by a saw when he is chopping wood. The boy is portrayed as an innocent young man who is doing his chores for the family when this tragedy befalls him. Frost reveals the boy’s shock when the saw cuts him—the first thing he does is laugh. Then, as he realizes the truth, he thinks of his life and begs his sister to protect him from the doctor. "Don’t let him cut my hand off." Next, we witness the boy’s terror as the doctor gives him ether, and "his pulse took fright." Finally, the boy succumbs to his fear, and the doctor cannot detect his heartbeat. The reader is left in a state of shock as the innocent boy gives
his life instead of his hand.

The Saw

The saw is personified as something that intentionally "Leaped out at the boy's hand." We can view the saw as the villain that strikes the innocent victim. Therefore, the boy and the saw represent the typical struggle between good and evil. Frost seems to be saying that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and there is no good explanation. The speaker states that the saw seems to "know what supper meant" because it takes the opportunity to strike at the boy when he is just about to stop work to eat his meal. However, Frost gives the villain a way out: the speaker says the boy "must have given the hand," which indicates the suddenness of the
tragedy.

The Sister

The boy's sister is present when the tragedy happens, as she...

(The entire section contains 508 words.)

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