Tragic Death of a Young Boy in Frost's Poem Entitled Out, Out

“Out, Out” is a graphic and emotional poem about the tragic death of a young boy. It is a powerful expression about the shortness of life and the fact that death can strike at any time. ¹ The fact that the boy’s death came right before he could “call it a day” leads one to think that the tragedy could have been avoided (line 10). This poem brings the question of mortality to the reader’s attention and shows that death does not discriminate. It could strike at any time no matter who the person is or what they have or have not done in their life. ² Frost also makes a reference to William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, in which Macbeth’s famous speech is a parallel to the occurrences in this poem. The poem brings out several important issues such as the uncertainty of life, the inevitable acceptance of death, and the unpredictability of what the future may hold. This poem also represents the harsh reality of life in the countryside and its sometimes fatal endings.

“Out, Out” was an appropriate title for this poem because the famous soliloquy where this comes from is when Macbeth learns about the sudden death of his wife, Lady Macbeth. ¹ The first line of his acclaimed quote is that “she should have died hereafter.” He is stating that it was not her time to leave the world yet, just like it was not the young boy’s time either. The boy had so much to live for, but now it will never be. He used those two specific words for the title of his poem because in Macbeth’s soliloquy, he states “Out, out, brief candle!” in which he is imagining a candle being blown out. Just like a candle, the lives of Lady Macbeth and the young boy were taken out, or blown away, forever. Unlike the lives of the two characters, a candle can be relit and start...

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...there just was not time to do so.

In the last line of this poem, the narrator enters a state of complete detachment, almost as if indifference is the only way to cope with the boy’s death. Nothing can be built on nothing. The living have lives to lead, things to still “build on.” Macbeth did thesame. He turned to his pressing affairs after mourning his wife’s death for only a short moment. He knew that there was nothing that he could do to change what had already been done. In Macbeth’s soliloquy, he says that “life...struts and frets his hour upon the stage,” but this young boy had far less than his allotted hour. The boy’s death was a prime example of how death is completely unexpected. No one likes death, especially when it takes the life of an innocent child. Death cannot be predicted, and this poem proves the fact that it can strike at any time to any one.
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