Class Struggle in Robert Frost's Poem Out, Out

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Class Struggle in Robert Frost's Poem Out, Out-

Robert Frost's poem "Out, Out-" is developed around a clear and unquestionable moment: a horrifying accident in which a young boy is mutilated by a buzz saw. Frost's underlying message, however, isn't nearly as straightforward. As the poem develops, two clear levels of interpretation seem to surface. While on the basic level the poem would seem to be a simple metaphor for man's struggles with nature, a more careful analysis suggests a level of interpretation far more relevant to humanity as a whole.

On the most basic level, Frost's "Out, Out-" begins by establishing the primary character - the dominant voice - in the form of a buzz saw. When the narrator writes that "The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard / And made dust and dropped stove length sticks of wood," he is presenting the saw as an individual rather than as a tool being used by a man. In essence, the narrator portrays the buzz saw as a wholly independent and living character; the harshness and destructive characteristics of a saw, then, can undoubtedly be associated with similar qualities in mankind. The harsh buzz saw is then immediately contrasted against an otherwise serene and natural landscape: "And from there those that lifted eyes could count / Five mountain ranges one behind the other / Under the sunset far into Vermont." Thus, the narrator has immediately established a conflict between the natural environment and the harsh destructive nature of man as represented by the buzz saw.

The initial conflict between man's destructive qualities and the beauty of the natural environment is expanded upon greatly as the poem develops. The narrator introduces another character, a young boy, whose simple and...

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...truggle between the innocent child and the forces that eventually lead to his destruction is quite clearly an embodiment of the general struggle within the economy between those in power and those forced to submit. Those who dominate, both in the poem and in Frost's industrial society, make rabid demands upon their inferiors while remaining apathetic to their needs. The faceless mass that represents this class in Frost's poem demands work the child is unfit to give and as a result thoughtlessly destroys him. Frost, by telling this harsh and macabre tale, is making a clear criticism of the forces at work in his economy, including those who dominate, and are thus far too apathetic to change, and their servants, who are far too powerless to force a change.

Works Cited:

Frost, Robert. ?Out, Out?? and ?Acquainted with the Night.? Language of Literature. 821-24.

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