illustration of a snowy forest with a cabin in the distance

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

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Why does the horse "think it queer" in "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

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The horse thinks it is "queer" or odd to stop in the middle of the woods because it seems his owner never does this. We know this because the speaker tells us that his "little" horse is used to stopping near farmhouses.

This would suggest that the narrator is a social person who primarily uses his horse to take him to and fro to visit people. This idea is reinforced by the last lines of the poem, in which the speaker states he has "promises" (social obligations) to carry out that are forcing him to move on.

Frost uses the reaction of the horse to help characterize the speaker, emphasizing how out of the ordinary it is for this man to stop in the middle of the woods to contemplate the beauty of the falling snow.

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I am not sure exactly how intelligent horses are, but like many domesticated animals, they are creatures of routine. So, in Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," the horse finds it unusual to stop at that particular place, "without a farmhouse near/ Between the woods and frozen lake" (lines 6-7) because this is not the narrator's routine with his horse. The horse is accustomed to a destination such as a farm. The horse may also be accustomed to stopping at the lake for some water. This narrator is stopping in the middle of nowhere, from the horse's perspective. It is also a snowy evening, and while the horse is probably not suffering in this weather, stopping like this on a cold night might also be unusual. One gets the impression that the narrator does not often give in to the impulse to stop for a quiet, contemplative moment. Thus, this is outside of the horse's normal routine and he thinks it odd.

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