The poem “Out, out, -,“ by Robert Frost tells the tale of a young boy in the backwoods of Vermont who loses his hand in the accident which leads to his eventual death. Told from the perspective of an onlooker, the poem utilizes imagery of nature, references to acceptance of death, and the speaker’s connotation of desperation to convey the theme. People acknowledge the inevitability of death so when it transpires death only affects the one dead, while everyone and everything else does not alter.
The use of imagery of nature suggests the frivolity of human affairs. The poem begins by describing the surrounding nature, “that lifted eyes could count/ Five mountain ranges one behind the other/ Under the sunset far into Vermont” (l. 4-6). Describing the vastness that surrounds the boy and his work makes him appear relatively small in stature compared to the mountains, seen only by lifted eyes. The greatness of these natural surroundings makes the boy and his life seem insignificant in the scheme of things. The contrast of the death of the boy and the beauty and liveliness of nature show that even when such a horrific event happens, nature remains unchanged.
In the poem, Frost suggests that everyone accepts death. When the chainsaw leaps from the boys grasp and strikes his hand, “Neither refused the meeting” (l. 18). The boy “was old enough to know” (l. 23); nothing he could do would stop the events from transpiring. Though frantic, the boy did recognize his fate. After the futile attempts from the doctor to revive him, “they/Were not the one dead” (l. 33-34), so they “turned to their affairs” (l. 34). Immediately following the death, the doctor and family turned their backs to the boy, leaving him behind. They accepted his death and moved on with their lives, somewhat callously. Everyone remained essentially unaltered by the events, except for the boy.
The speaker’s perspective of the events conveys an almost desperate tone of the poem. Structurally, the use of exclamation points say the speaker experiences an emotional attachment to the story he/she tells. The speaker affects the poem most strongly when he/she declares, “I wish” (l. 10). The only use of the pronoun I make it unusually noticeable. The connotation of the word wish, a deep longing and desire for something different, show that the speaker wishes the death of the boy did not happen. He/she wishes the boy lived otherwise it confirms that after death, a person’s life becomes irrelevant to the remainder of the world. The speaker wants society to acknowledge and care about the people in their lives who die so the morbid reality described by Frost develops into fiction.
In the scheme of society, the boy’s life and death exist merely irrelevantly because of the consistently impartial natural world. The speaker, who acts on behalf of the human race, desperately longs for death not to equal irrelevance. Frost possibly wrote this poem to encourage people to not forget the people now gone, or else when death comes everyone turns into a shadow, forgotten as well.